NEW DELHI : With Iran-backed Shia Houthi militia coming out in support of Hamas terrorists in Gaza and randomly targeting commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Somalian Pirates playing havoc off the Gulf of Aden, major shipping companies are avoiding Bab El-Mandeb chokepoint as a result of which shipping costs and insurance have gone up.
While Houthi militia are targeting commercial shipping in the Red Sea with cruise missiles and missile-firing drones to deter them from proceeding to the Israeli port of Eilat, Somalian pirates have taken control of Malta-flagged MV Ruen and are currently proceeding towards Mogadishu in Somalia. The Indian Navy guided-missile destroyer INS Kochi is in the vicinity of the hijacked ship but the Japanese destroyer JMSDF Akebono has detached itself from the pursuit and has left the vicinity.
It is quite evident that the owners of MV Ruen will have to pay ransom to the Somali pirates to get their ship released from captivity as any armed intervention will lead to loss of lives of the hostage crew. The Somalian pirates boarded MV Ruen around the island of Socotra off the coast of Aden and proceeded towards the Somalian coast. None of the 18 crew has Indian nationality with the injured among them in stable condition. It is understood that Spanish Frigate Victoria had also joined the pursuit to deter the pirates but the status of the ship is not known now.
Although US and NATO warships are trying to protect commercial shipping from Houthi attacks, the Shia rebels at the instigation of Iran have opened a sea front of the coast of Yemen just as another Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah has opened a land front with Israel in South Lebanon. More than one-sixth of global commercial shipping traffic passes through the Red Sea and any disruption like the current one spikes the trade costs.
With Israel in no mood to let the Hamas terrorist group off the hook for the October 7 massacre, it is quite evident that sea lanes of communication in this part of north Arabian Sea will remain disrupted unless pressure is put on Houthi handlers in Tehran to back off. And till such time, the Somalian pirates will make huge amounts of ransom money at the cost of this disruption.