Houthis Deny Senior Houthi Figure’s Threats to Commercial Navigation in Red Sea and Arabian Sea
June 19: There are currently conflicting uncorroborated reports of an alleged threat by a senior Houthi leader.
“Any oil site or ship carrying oil in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea would be legitimate targets for us to stop the aggression,” President of the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council Mahdi Al-Mashat said during an interview with the group’s Al-Masirah TV channel. The Houthis, he added, now have “missiles capable of threatening deep into the coalition countries, and reaching any point in the Gulf states.” He also reportedly made reference to Iran’s support of the Houthis and to the group’s backing of Iran in its conflict with the US.
However, the statements were quickly denied by Houthi leadership. They state that the website was hacked by “hostile parties” and the statements were not theirs.
An alternative explanation of the redacted statements is internal disagreement amongst Houthi militias. One source states that the spokesman of the group, Mohamed Abdel Salam Fleeta, head of the board of directors of Almasirah, ordered not to broadcast the interview, but that Mashat was upset by this and ordered his followers to broadcast what had been stated. This source goes on to state that Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi then intervened to remove the statements from the website.
Mashat is considered a “hardliner” by Houthi standards, and has often advocated for a more aggressive military response. While he is in a powerful position now, it is unclear how much control he has over whether such an attack would be launched.