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Yemen: Houthis Openly Plant Naval Mines

Yemen: Houthis Openly Plant Naval Mines

Friday, 19 October, 2018 - 08:00
Port of Hodeidah (File Photo: Reuters)

Yemeni politicians and observers consider Houthis' admission to manufacturing naval mines a direct challenge to the international community, a flagrant threat to the Red Sea shipping routes, and further proof of the Iranian involvement in providing military-technical support to the militias as well as smuggling weapons to them.

Houthi media recently broadcast clear footage of alleged militia-made naval mines to confirm the group's explicit recognition of its capabilities to plant mines, despite previous denials.

Observers believe Houthis are unlikely to have the ability to manufacture any quality weapons without Iranian expertise or the help of Lebanon's Hezbollah. However, others consider that the militias’ behavior is the result of their recent defeats on the west coast.

"Iran wants to show its maritime terrorist capabilities through Houthis on the west coast amid US insistence on its next economic war on Iran," according to Head of al-Jazeera Centre for Studies Najib Gallab.

The Yemeni researcher pointed out that the group has already threatened more than once that it will transfer its battle to the Red Sea and carry out attacks on international shipping routes. This was met with strict reactions from the international and regional communities, as well as the Arab Coalition and Yemen's legitimacy.

Gallab noted that Iran may be directing Houthis "to carry out terrorist acts through booby-trapped boats and missiles to target the international trade corridor in the Red Sea."

He believes that the Houthi sea mines will not affect the battle on the west coast.

Gallab asserted that the militias will not be able to affect the Yemeni trade or influx of humanitarian aid “because any reckless action will be against them, given that mining will not affect the battle, but will be a foolish retaliation to serve Iran.”

Media adviser at the Yemeni embassy in Cairo Baligh al-Mekhlafi said that Houthis are trying to send clear messages to the international community that they have the ability to threaten navigation in the Red Sea.

Mekhlafi believes that the militias are unable to manufacture any weapons, whether marine mines or missiles, otherwise they would have used them earlier in the war.

He stressed that weapons are smuggled to militias through fishing boats that first reach Iranian ships at the sea before being transported to them.

Author and human rights activist Hamdan al-Ali is not surprised that the militias continue to violate the international and humanitarian law, including the group’s recent stunt of producing sea mines.

"The Houthi militia knows that before the world it is just a militia and has no legal status,” indicated Ali, adding that the world and the international organizations, especially the UN, deal only with the recognized political regimes and entities.

“(The militias) are reassured the international community will not hold them accountable," indicated the activist, noting that had the violations been committed by the legitimacy or the coalition countries, they would have been held accountable and perhaps subjected to sanctions.

Ali stresses that the only way to stop the Houthi violations and put an end to their threats is through military decisiveness as the most effective way to deal with this group that doesn’t fear any legal accountability.

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