Shell Becomes Latest To Suspend Red Sea Shipments After Two Fresh Houthi Attacks On Tankers

by Tommy Grant

This article was originally published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge. 

There have been several fresh incidents in the Red Sea, including a Greek-owned tanker coming attack off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday. It comes amid a string of similar attacks, causing Shell to be the latest to suspend all Red Sea shipments, according to breaking news in the WSJ.

“British oil major Shell PLC suspended all shipments through the Red Sea indefinitely after U.S. and U.K. strikes on Yemen’s Houthi rebels triggered fears of further escalation, according to people familiar with the decision,” the publication writes. WSJ continues, “Around 12% of total global seaborne oil trade goes through the Red Sea.” According to more:

Last month, a tanker chartered by Shell to move Indian jet fuel was targeted by a drone in the Red Sea and harassed by Houthi boats, according to shipping officials. Shell declined to comment on the suspension of transit and the attack.

But the company last week took the step to halt all crossings over concerns that a successful attack could trigger a massive spill in the region, as well as present risks to the safety of crews on the ships, the people said.

On Tuesday, British maritime security firm Ambrey identified that the Zografia, a Malta-flagged Greek-owned bulk carrier, has suffered a direct hit by a missile while going northbound in the Red Sea, near the Yemeni port city of Saleef.

Zografia, bulk carrier, via

The damage to the Zografia is being described in Reuters as minor with no injuries reported among the 24-member crew. But there’s additionally already a second incident unfolding, also within 100 nautical miles of Saleef. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) says it received a report of an incident, but the details of which have not been forthcoming. Based on the pattern, the second incident may involve a missile or possibly a drone strike.

Clearly, the Houthis are not fearing the West’s punitive strikes. Days ago The New York Times acknowledged that the US and UK-led attacks are likely to have little impact on Houthi decision-making:

Strikes are therefore “extremely unlikely” to stop the group’s Red Sea attacks, [Hannah Porter, a senior research officer at ARK Group] said.

“The Houthis are very comfortable operating in a wartime environment,” she  said. “They are more successful as a military group than they are as a government.”

The strikes could also help the Houthis with domestic politics, providing “another ‘foreign enemy’ pretext to distract the public from their failing rebel governance that does not deliver services,” said Ibrahim Jalal, a Yemeni nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based research organization.

Some American allies in the region, including Qatar and Oman, had privately warned the United States that bombing the Houthis would only deepen regional tensions.

Meanwhile, US Central Command has continued upping its counter-Iran operations in regional waters, also as Tehran is believed to be supplying the Yemeni rebel group with weapons.

In a fresh statement, CENTCOM has announced, “On 11 January 2024, while conducting a flag verification, U.S. CENTCOM Navy forces conducted a night-time seizure of a dhow conducting illegal transport of advanced lethal aid from Iran to resupply Houthi forces in Yemen as part of the Houthis’ ongoing campaign of attacks against international merchant shipping.” So Iranian weapons are continuing to be shipped to the Houthis of Yemen, and thus it looks like Operation Prosperity Guardian is having no significant deterrent impact.

Read the full article here

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