In this corner… Russia and China confront the US and the United Kingdom for illegally attacking the Houthis

Russia and China on Wednesday accused the United States and Britain of illegally attack military sites used by Yemen’s Houthi rebels to launch missiles at commercial ships in the Red Sea, disrupting global shipping.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Wood and British Ambassador Barbara Woodward argued that the Houthi attacks are illegal and that their “proportionate and lawful action” against Yemeni rebels is in self-defense.

According to Woodward, the Houthi attacks are “raising costs of global maritime transport, including food and humanitarian aid in the region.”

But Russia’s deputy ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, and China’s representative, Zhang Jun, maintained that the UN Security Council never authorized military action against Yemen.

The confrontation occurred during a Council meeting in which the entity’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, indicated that the promising efforts to restore peace in Yemen have been slowed by the increase in regional tensions due to the war in Gaza and “especially the military escalation in the Red Sea.”

What triggered the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea?

Since November, the Houthis have attacked boats in the Red Sea to demand a ceasefire in the Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Typically, they attack ships with a weak or unclear link to Israel, threatening shipping in a key route for trade between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

In recent weeks, the United States and the United Kingdom, backed by other allies, have launched airstrikes against Houthi missile arsenals and the points from which they launch their attacks.

Wood, Washington’s envoy, said the White House operation is responding to attacks on American ships and “seeks to disrupt and degrade the ability of the Houthis to continue their reckless attacks on ships and commercial shipping in the Red Sea.” , in the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb and in the Gulf of Aden.”

Since 2014, he added, Iran has provided “a growing arsenal of advanced weapons” to the Houthis, which have been used to attack merchant shipping, and “Iran cannot deny its role in allowing and supporting the attacks carried out by the Houthis.”

Wood accused the yemeni rebels of “trying to strangle international shipping through the Red Sea” and urged all countries, especially those with direct channels to Tehran, “to pressure Iranian leaders to rein in the Houthis and stop these illegal attacks.”

The Russian ambassador, Polyansky, highlighted that Moscow “categorically condemns the attacks and seizures of commercial vessels and (…) any attack that impedes freedom of navigation,” and noted that the Kremlin has sent messages to the Houthi leaders to focus on Yemen’s internal agenda and seek peace.

US and UK attacks slow peace in Yemen

UN envoy Grundberg noted that in late December, the Houthis — who control the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north — and the internationally recognized Yemeni government “committed to a ceasefire.” throughout the territory and in measures to improve living conditions and restart an intra-Yemeni political process.”

But the peace process cannot be isolated from events in the regionHe added, and the US and British attacks on Houthi targets, and Washington’s labeling of the rebels as a “specially designated terrorist group” are “concerning.”

“Despite the possible complications, my work will continue no matter what,” he said. “Therefore, it is imperative that we protect the political space, that communication channels remain open, and that all actors remain actively engaged in my efforts.”

Polyansky pointed out that The underlying cause of the current situation is the Israeli military campaign in Gaza after the surprise incursion of the Hamas insurgent group into southern Israel on October 7, which has sparked a chain reaction in the Middle East, including by the Houthis.

“A Immediate ceasefire in Gaza will help stabilize situation in Red Seaand the de-escalation in those waters will in turn unblock the efforts of the special envoy,” stated the Russian ambassador.

The Yemen civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis launched a successful campaign from their stronghold in the north and ousted the government from Sana’a. A Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year on behalf of the internationally backed executive and the conflict became a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.

The conflict has devastated Yemen, already the poorest nation in the Arab world, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.