According to reports from multiple media outlets including Bloomberg on March 21, sources revealed that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have communicated to China and Russia that vessels from both countries can navigate through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden without being targeted by the organization!

Sources mentioned that after discussions between Chinese and Russian diplomats stationed in Oman and one of the top political figures of the Houthi rebels, Mohammed Abdul Salam, an agreement was reached.

Commenting on this, Bloomberg noted that while the Houthi rebels have assured that Chinese and Russian vessels won’t be targeted, the discussions underscore the growing concerns of major powers regarding the missile and drone attacks conducted by the organization in the southern Red Sea and surrounding areas since mid-November last year.

Regarding the topic of “Chinese and Russian vessels passing through the Red Sea,” Yemen’s Houthi rebels have previously made similar statements. According to a report by TASS earlier this January, a member of the Houthi political bureau, Mohammed Bakhiti, stated in an interview with Russian media that ships from Russia and China, among other countries, can safely transit the Red Sea without facing threats while navigating in that area.

“For all ships from other countries including Russia and China, their navigation in the region will not face any threats,” Bakhiti stated. “Additionally, we are prepared to ensure their safety as they cross the Red Sea, as maritime freedom is important to our country.”

The Houthi rebels reiterated that their targets are ships associated with Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In early March, the rebels attacked a commercial vessel named “True Confidence,” owned by a commodities shipping company, resulting in the first death since their maritime attacks began. The Houthi rebels claimed the ship was American-owned. According to an insider, it was previously owned by Oaktree Capital based in Los Angeles, but recently a new company took over.

Since the outbreak of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict in October last year, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked targets in the Red Sea using drones and missiles. Since January 12th, the United States and the United Kingdom have conducted consecutive airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, resulting in multiple casualties. Some countries have condemned the actions of the US and the UK, viewing them as violations of Yemen’s sovereignty, which could exacerbate tensions in the region.

It is reported that the safe passage of vessels from China and Russia through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea has been widely acknowledged within the industry. Some industry insiders have reported that, to avoid attacks, certain ships have prominently displayed the Chinese national flag or markings such as “CHINA,” and some merchant ships have even covered their own company logos and replaced them directly with “COSCO SHIPPING.” This indicates that Chinese-flagged vessels have a unique advantage in terms of safe passage through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.

Earlier reports also mentioned that Hapag-Lloyd chartered a 3400 TEU container ship under the Chinese flag (with five stars) to deploy on its MD2 route. This vessel is expected to depart from Shanghai, transport cargo to Beirut and Genoa, and then return to Shanghai and Ningbo.

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