US condemns Houthi attack on UAE ship

Owned by the UAE’s National Marine Dredging Company, the ship was attacked as it sailed through the Bab Al Mandeb Strait.

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ABU DHABI // The United States has condemned the attack on a UAE civilian ship by the Houthi militia.

“The United States strongly condemns the Houthi forces’ unprovoked attack against a UAE vessel operating near the Bab Al Mandeb,” said US department of state spokesman John Kirby, according to Wam, the state news agency.

“We take these threats seriously. The United States remains committed to upholding freedom of navigation through the Bab Al Mandeb.”

Mr Kirby called on the Houthis and forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to “immediately cease attacks against all vessels”.

“These provocative actions risk exacerbating the current conflict and narrow the prospects for a peaceful settlement,” he said.

The UAE ship, the Swift, had been evacuating injured civilians from Aden and all aboard were rescued, Wam said.

Owned by the UAE’s National Marine Dredging Company, the ship was attacked as it sailed through the Bab Al Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.

The US called on the Houthi militia to end hostilities.

“Resolution to the conflict in Yemen must focus on a political solution and we urge the Houthi-Saleh groups to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful solution by taking steps to de-escalate by adhering to a cessation of hostilities without preconditions, and we continue to call on all parties to return to the negotiations being facilitated by the United Nations,” Mr Kirby said.

Earlier the Yemeni government denounced the attack on the UAE ship and described it as a terrorist attack violating international laws.

The secretary general of the Arab League, Ahmed Abul Ghait, and the Coalition Forces Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen also condemned the Houthi militia.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also spoke out against the attack, saying freedom of navigation in the Bab Al Mandab strait is of utmost importance.

“France reaffirms the urgent need to reach a political solution, the only way to prevent a further deterioration in the humanitarian and security situation and to effectively combat terrorism. As such, the formation of a so-called “national salvation” government by the Houthis on 2nd October runs counter to the inter-Yemeni negotiation process,” the statement said.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Monday said the attack could obstruct freedom of movement in international waterways which are guaranteed by international laws and treaties “It can lead to a halt in dispatching humanitarian and relief assistance to the Yemeni people.”

The OIC called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

UAE forces are involved in the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s Operation Restoring Hope, which backs the legitimate government in Yemen. The UAE has provided humanitarian assistance for Yemenis trapped in the conflict.