Some 18 months into a naval blockade of Yemen, tensions are on the rise off the coast as the Shi’ite Houthis attacked a logistics ships from the United Arab Emirates. The ship was hit with an anti-ship missile, and the Houthis claimed it was “completely destroyed.”
The ship, an Australian built ship leased to the UAE Navy as HSV-2 Swift, came under fire near the Bab al-Mandaab Strait, which spans the narrowest area between Yemen and Africa. The Houthis argue that since the ship was part of the UAE navy, it was a legitimate target in the ongoing Saudi-led war against Yemen.
The UAE, however, is claiming the ship was carrying humanitarian aid, and trying to present the attack as proof that the Houthis are engaged in irresponsible attacks, which the Saudi coalition are already using to justify further escalations of the war.
The ship’s status is still somewhat disputed, as initial reports claimed it had just departed from the city of Aden, the de facto capital of the pro-Saudi south, as part of “routine” transit back and forth from Djibouti. Later, however, when the aid ship claims started growing, they claimed the ship was nearing Aden, and was loaded with medical supplies.
UAE warships have participated in the blockade of Yemen throughout, severely limiting aid shipments, particularly to the Shi’ite north. As Yemen imports materially all of its food, this blockade has caused widespread shortages of pretty much everything.