Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis seized a rig being towed by a Saudi tugboat in the southern Red Sea. The Yemenis are now stating that they will release the rig if this comes out to be a South Korean one.
This news comes after the South Korean foreign ministry sounded off an alarm bell when it came to know that a Korean dredger had been seized along with a Korean tugboat along with a Saudi tugboat. It said 16 sailors including two South Koreans had been detained.
A Saudi-led coalition is fighting against the Houthis. With the South Korean ones, the Saudi Rabigh 3 has also been captured, making it a purposeful capture for the opponent.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a senior Houthi official has communicated to the media that the crew was being treated well and “Yemeni coast guards … are checking to see whether (the vessel) belongs to the countries of aggression or to South Korea, in which case it will be released after completing legal procedures.”
The Saudi-led coalition spokesman has called the act as a “terrorist operation” that posed a threat to the freedom of international navigation and world trade.
This incident is the latest of such violence on a major trade route at sea, around Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states fighting against the Houthis who control the capital and most population centers.
The Houthis have been accused of attacking shipping in the past. The other major incident which gripped the trade community was when in July this year, the Royal Marines seized the vessel off Gibraltar, saying it was carrying oil bound for Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
Iran retaliated by seizing the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Gulf. This sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries that took three months to resolve.
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