The Council action came after three days of intense backstage negotiations while the situation in the Red Sea region was heating up…reports Asian Lite News
The UN Security Council (UNSC) has condemned the attacks on ships by Houthi rebels and demanded that they immediately end the assaults in the Red Sea region vital to commerce for India.
The resolution proposed by the US and Japan was adopted on Wednesday after China and Russia abstained on the resolution rather than vetoing it after three amendments introduced by Moscow failed to pass.
The resolution received 11 votes in the 15-member Council, with Algeria and Mozambique joining in the abstentions.
The Council action came after three days of intense backstage negotiations while the situation in the Red Sea region was heating up.
Hours before the resolution was passed, the US and Britain said that a joint operation neutralised one of the biggest attacks by the Houthis using missiles and drones.
US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “There have been dozens of attacks since November on shipping in the Red Sea, which have affected more than 40 different countries.”
“If the Houthi attacks continue, there will be consequences,” she warned.
The resolution said that the Houthi militia’s attacks “undermine navigational rights and freedoms, as well as regional peace and security”, and it should “immediately cease all attacks, which impede global commerce and navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace”.
Taking aim at Iran, but without naming it, the resolution also condemned the arming of the Houthis in contravention of Council embargo.
It also called for the immediate release of the ship Galaxy Leader, which was seized by Houthi commandos in November last year.
The ship’s ownership is linked to an Israeli, but is operated by a Japanese company with an international crew under Bahama’s flag.
The resolution did not attach any penalties for disobeying the Council’s demand.
Russia and China abstaining on on resolution rather than sinking, it shows the universal concern about the shipping route leading to and from the Suez Canal, forming the shorter route to and from Asia, the East Coast of Africa and the Gulf region to Europe and the Americas.
To avoid the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, ships would have to make a 3,000-nautical-mile detour around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s Southern tip adding more than a week to the journey.
Thomas-Greenfield said the attacks “are an economic threat, increasing the prices people pay for food, medicine, and energy”.
Echoing Washington’s concerns, China’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun said that unimpeded access to the Red Sea is essential for “a stable and smooth global supply chain and international trade order”.
The Houthi militia that is backed by Iran has asserted that it was disrupting shipping in the region in protest against Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
One of Russia’s amendments wanted the resolution to mention the link to the Gaza conflict.
Although Britain and the US voted against the amendments, their actions did not become vetoes because with most countries abstaining the drafts did not meet the threshold of nine votes required to pass in which case a veto would have taken effect.
Thomas-Greenfield said that the Houthis, who were “intoxicated” with power did not really care about Gaza and were only using it as a pretext for their attacks on ships few of which have anything to do with Israel.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said that the “real goals” of the resolution were not to ensure the security of navigation in the Red Sea but “to legitimise existing actions of this coalition” of the US and its allies and get the Council’s “open-ended blessing” for them.
He was referring to ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ launched by the US and its allies to protect ships in the region.
Although India is not a part of the operation, its navy is also involved in safeguarding ships in the Red Sea region.
The Indian Navy said it was reinforcing its presence in the North/Central Arabian Sea region close to the mouth of the Red Sea, “surging ships and aircraft to deter attacks on international shipping in the Western Indian Ocean Region”.
“Indian Navy is closely monitoring overall situation in coordination with national maritime agencies and remains committed towards ensuring safety of merchant shipping and seafarers in the region,” it said in a statement last week.
Last week INS Chennai was involved in an operation to secure a ship that came under attack.