Sailors rely on unconventional tactics

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A Houthi propaganda video shows an attack by Yemeni rebels on the “Galaxy Leader” last November. © AFP

Despite attacks by Houthi rebels, shipping companies continue to sail through the Red Sea. Sailors rely on unusual methods to protect themselves.

SANAA – Despite the constant threat of Houthi rebels, many shipping companies choose the Red Sea route to save fuel costs and gain time. Especially small companies see no alternative in this passage. They are willing to take risks for their crew. To avoid falling into the crosshairs of the radical Islamic terror group, sailors are now resorting to some unconventional methods.

Fear in the Red Sea: Ship crews send direct messages to Houthi rebels

They send direct messages and tips to Houthi rebels. Instead of information about their destination, the tracking systems used to monitor the current positions of merchant ships contain messages such as “No contact with Israel”, “Armed guard on board” or “Chinese crew only”. This was reported by the American news website The Daily Beast. Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade, told the newspaper that while some crews have disabled the transmission of maritime data, many shippers use the encrypted messaging tactic.

The voyage across the Red Sea had become a dangerous undertaking for several weeks. Houthi rebels from Yemen are attacking international merchant ships in the strait in solidarity with Hamas in Israel's war – allegedly cutting off arms supplies to Israel. Western intelligence services suspect that the terrorist fighters are controlled and supported by Iran. They believe the regime in Tehran is supplying the rockets for the attacks and providing the militants with the associated shipping data.

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The US has already formed an international coalition and, along with partners such as the UK, has deployed warships in the region to protect merchant shipping. Despite direct attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen, naval battles continue to erupt. Large shipping companies such as the Danish company Maersk choose the route around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, avoiding the conflict region, despite the high transport costs. However, this puts more pressure on smaller shipping companies. Some of them continue to travel through the Red Sea.

Attacks in Red Sea: Houthi fighters want to rescue German ships

Whether their strategy of sending messages to the Houthis is successful remains to be seen. The rebels had earlier announced that they would release Allied ships. As both countries side with Iran, this primarily refers to Russian and Chinese cargo ships.

Surprisingly, Houthi fighters expanded the circle to include German ships on Monday (January 22). Mohammed al-Buqaidi, the Houthi governor of Tamar province, gave an interview to a German news channel. RTL/NTV Known: “Chinese and Russian ships are not in our sights. They are not targets. Not even German ships.” He added: “All ships in the world are safe, except of course those related to the Zionist regime of Israel.”

The Houthis from Yemen are relying on a new strategy

However, he did not provide a solid reason why he wanted to save the German ships now. Chancellor Olaf Scholes (SPD) announced support for Israel as a reason for the government. However, security experts see the Houthis' portrayal as a targeted propaganda tactic. “The Houthis are counting on a media campaign to explain their actions in the Red Sea, even in areas they do not rule, to improve their legitimacy in Yemen,” said Jonas Ecke, ntv's geopolitical analyst and humanitarian adviser.

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However, shipping companies should not expect a complete turnaround by the Houthis. Terrorist militants announced on Monday that they would intensify their operations in the Red Sea. (jkf)

Editor Jens Kiffmeier wrote this article and then applied the AI ​​language model to optimization at his own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Learn more about our AI policies here.

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