GCC condemns 'heinous' Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia Red Sea oil tankers

Widespread condemnation of Houthi threat to oil trade comes amid war of words between Iran's top commander and Donald Trump

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 30, 2010, a fishing boat is seen entering the harbour in the southern city of Aden, situated at the mouth of the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted all oil shipments through a key waterway after Yemen's Iran-aligned Huthi rebels attacked two crude vessels, officials said on July 25, 2018. / AFP / Karim SAHIB
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The GCC secretary-general condemned the 'heinous' Houthi attacks on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers in the Red Sea, saying the Iran-backed rebels pose a great threat to world trade.

"The attack is an act of terrorism that has threatened the regional security and peace," Dr Abdullatif bin Rashed Al Zayani said late on Thursday.

Mr Al Zayani called on the UN Security Council to stop the Houthis flagrant violation of the international laws, jeopardising the freedom of navigation in Bab Al Mandab strait.


Houthi attacks

Saudi Arabia suspends oil exports through Red Sea lane 

UAE's Gargash warns Houthis over Yemen oil tanker attacks


On Thursday, Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the Houthi attacks were an irresponsible act that demonstrated the importance of ousting the Iran-backed group from control of Yemen.

"The effect of it actually is much wider than the region," he said in London. 
"I think this is another example of why the Houthi takeover of the Yemeni government in Sanaa should end."

The Bab Al Mandeb Strait is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. The narrow channel on the southern entrance to the Red Sea and has become an increasing focus of Iranian-backed rebel attacks during the three-year conflict.

On Thursday, Iran's top commander Qassem Soleimani, reignited Tehran's war of words with US President Donald Trump, bragging about making region more insecure. "The Red Sea which was secure is no longer secure with the American presence," the head Iran's Revolutionary Guard boasted.

"As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to Trump's threats... If he wants to use the language of threat...he should talk to me, not to the president."

Earlier this week, Mr Trump responded to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani's threat that "war with Iran is the mother of all wars".

Mr Trump told the Iranian president to "never, ever threaten the United States again", warning of unprecedented "consequences".

Oil markets edged lower on Friday after three days of gains.

A statement from Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, revealed the decision to halt tanker movements after two vessels operated by the Saudi shipping group Bahri, each with a two-million-barrel capacity, were attacked. One of the ships suffered minor damage in the assault.

Aramco said that the decision to suspend shipments was “in the interest of the safety of ships and their crews and to avoid the risk of oil spill.”

An estimated 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products flowed through the Strait in 2016 towards Europe, the Americas and Asia, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

However, Saudi Arabia has the Petroline, also known as the East-West Pipeline, which mainly transports crude from fields clustered in the east to Yanbu for export. That could offset a bottleneck caused by Bab Al Mandeb's closure.