February 27, 2024

The fallout from the Israel-Hamas war reverberates in the Red Sea.

The Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen has responded to the conflict by escalating attacks on vessels go to or come from Israel. Responding to that growing threat—including an attack on one of his ships—the world’s largest container lineMediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) decided to quit all journeys through the Suez Canal on Friday (Dec. 15).

“This disruption will affect the sailing schedules by several days of vessels booked for Suez transport,” the Swiss company warned. “We ask for your understanding under these serious circumstances.”

MSC’s warning echoed statements by Danish shipping giant Maersk and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd the same day. On December 16, CMA CGM also suspended all sailings in the region. The French shipping and logistics company told its container ships scheduled to pass through the Red Sea “to reach safe areas and suspend their journey in safe waters with immediate effect until further notice.”

The Houthi attacks, which include the firing of drones and missiles and the taking of vessels hostage, started soon after the Hamas assault on October 7 and Israel’s relentless retaliation. And they show no signs of slowing down.

“The Houthis will not abandon the Palestinian cause regardless of any American, Israeli or Western threats,” Ali al-Qahoum, a member of the Houthis’ Ansarulla politburo, said in an interview with the Lebanon- based Al Mayadeen TV said. . 15, Al-Jazeera reported.

A non-exhaustive timeline of Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea

Nov. 19: The Galaxy Leaderoperated by the Japanese shipping company NYK, and its 25-member crew illegally seized on international waters in the southern Red Sea.

December 14: Maersk reports a near miss incident after the Maersk Gibraltar is targeted by missile.

December 15: An attack on a Maersk container ship, the company is asking to suspend all sailing. is a Hapag-Lloyd ship also attacked. Separately, MSC container ship MSC Palladium III has a seizure while crossing the Red Sea. “All crew are safe with no reported injuries, meanwhile the vessel sustained limited fire damage and has been decommissioned,” MSC says. Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare’e claims that another ship, MSC Alanyawas also attacked, but MSC’s statement does not mention it.

If not the Red Sea, where do ships sail?

The Red Sea has the Suez Canal at its northern end and the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait – leading to the Gulf of Aden – at its southern end, making it an important link between Europe and Asia.

Warships from the US, the UK and France are patrolling the area and have even shot down several missiles launched by the Houthis. But commercial players are still uncertain.

“Some companies have already diverted around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid Houthi aggression which adds cost and delay to global trade,” the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said. said in a December 15 statement. “The industry is extremely concerned about these attacks on shipping and is understood to be considering additional actions that could lead to further ships being diverted to this route, with further potential impacts on trade.”

The alternative route, which was also adopted when the Suez Canal is blocked in 2021wash a hotbed of piracy In the past. And that’s not all: The journey is longer and more insidiouswith strong winds, rocky outcrops and heavy shipping traffic.

Shipping in the Red Sea—or not—by the numbers

12%: Part of global trade that currently passes through the Red Sea

10+: Ships that the Houthis have been attacking since October 7

19 to 31 days: How much longer the journey becomes for a vessel going from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope depends on the vessel’s type, speed and destination, according to Noam Raydan, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

40%: Part of cargo arriving in Israel that goes through the Suez Canal, according to Elyakim BenHakoun, a maritime transport researcher at the Technion Institute of Technology

$400,0000-$1 million: Cost increase per ship due to the longer journey and additional delays, according to BenHakoun

Quotable: Yemen will suffer as a result of Houthi attacks on ships

“Houthi’s interference with navigation rights and freedoms in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula, especially the Red Sea, is unacceptable. The EU reiterates its call to the Houthis to refrain from further threats and attacks on international shipping lanes…Attacks on international vessels undermine Yemen’s security, including food security, as most of the country’s food imports are transported through the Red Sea. “

Peter Stanochief spokesman for the European Union’s foreign affairs and security policy


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