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Houthis reportedly strike Deal with Russia, China for safe passage

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YEMEN : Houthi rebels here—who have been attacking ships passing through the Red Sea in an apparent show of support for Hamas in the Israel-Hamas War—have reached a deal with Russia and China to allow safe passage for their ships, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the discussions.

In exchange for the safe passage, it’s likely Russia and China will provide some sort of political support for the Houthis, potentially before the United Nations Security Council—though the specifics of that support are not clear, Bloomberg reported.

The Houthis had already signaled they weren’t targeting Chinese or Russian vessels, but Bloomberg reports Russia and China may have been seeking a more concrete deal after the Houthis reportedly misidentified ships they targeted.

That includes the March 6 attack on the “True Confidence” ship, which yielded the first casualties in the Houthis’ campaign, killing three crew members—a Houthi spokesperson claimed the ship was American, but the ship’s owners denied any connections to any American entity, and the ship was reportedly sold by an American company to a Liberia-registered company last month.

In another incident, Houthi missiles exploded close to a ship loaded with Russian oil, just days after the Houthis had signaled Russian ships were safe to pass.


The Houthis are a Shiite militia group in Yemen that has been fighting the Yemeni government for decades, having seized control of significant portions of the country, including the capital of Sanaa. The group, which is backed and funded by Iran, has cast itself as part of an “axis of resistance” against the U.S. and Israel. In January, the U.S. designated the Houthis a terrorist organization because of their activities in the Red Sea. The Houthi attacks have disrupted the global shipping industry, forcing companies to take detours around the key Suez Canal to avoid the Red Sea, though earlier this week, the Houthis signaled they are planning to expand their operations to target additional shipping lanes. The reported agreement cements what had already been a relatively friendlier relationship between the Houthis, Russia and China. Russia and China had provided some mild support for the group in public settings—in January, the two countries abstained from voting on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Houthi attacks. And in February, Russia and China criticized as illegal U.S. and British military operations in the Red Sea launched in response to the Houthi threat, arguing the U.N. Security Council had never authorized such action in Yemen.


Ali al-Quahoum, a member of the Houthis’ political bureau in Yemen, highlighted cooperation with Russia and China days before the Bloomberg report, noting on X “there is a continuous building and development in international relations between Yemen, Russia, China and the BRICS countries,” per a translation. He said this cooperation “has a common interest in drowning America, Britain and the West in the swamp of the Red Sea and on the high seas, and it is intended for them to sink, disappear and weaken their unilateral polarity.


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