Houthis want to control key strait

Key regional choke point.

Houthis want to control key strait but it’s not that easy

Amal Kandeel

Attention is increasingly fixed on the Houthis’ advance in Yemen. Since last summer, the rebel group has laid siege to the capital Sanaa. Last month, they seized the presidential palace. This past weekend, they took over the government and dismissed parliament.

What is particularly significant is their sweep across three governorates, which together with Sanaa, form a corridor parallel to the Red Sea coast. Aab and Thamar are inland and are a short distance from the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, the Red Sea’s gateway to the Indian Ocean.Al Hudaydah, the northernmost of the three and Yemen’s second main seaport, is roughly 200 kilometres from the strait. South of Al Hudaydah, the formidable mountainous Taiz, which overlooks the strait has so far held against the Houthis. It is considered key to the strait, which the Houthis, backed and financed by Iran, want to control.

They already control several towns leading to the strait, which gives them considerable political leverage. The strait is one of the principal maritime transit points for north-south trade. It is also a vital international oil transit chokepoint for ships plying between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. In 2013, about 3.8 million barrels of oil passed through the strait every day, which is almost 7 per cent of international maritime oil trade.

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Source: thenational.ae

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