Mar Rojo

La crisis del Mar Rojo es un nuevo golpe para las cadenas de suministro globales

En marzo de 2021 el portacontenedores Ever Given encalló en el canal de Suez. Los seis días que el canal permaneció cerrado levantaron una ola de preocupación en todo el mundo al quedar bloqueado el paso a través de esta estratégica vía por la que circula un 30 % del tráfico mundial de contenedores. El incidente provocó serios retrasos en las cadenas de suministro a nivel mundial, cuyos efectos se seguían sintiendo meses después de la crisis.

La inquietud por el caso Ever Given palidece ahora frente a la que provoca los ataques de los hutíes, un grupo insurgente yemení, en las proximidades del estrecho de Bab el-Mandeb, en la entrada del Mar Rojo, camino de los mercados europeos a través del canal de Suez.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) being welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) in Beijing, China on February 14, 2023. (Photo by Presidency of Iran / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A Reuters report on 26 January claimed that China recently attempted to nudge Iran into reining in Houthi attacks against civilian ships in the Red Sea.

However, the report created confusion about precisely what Beijing’s demands were.
The prevailing narrative has been that China asked Iran to refrain from impeding international shipping, and to abandon its strategy of linking such attacks to the war in Gaza. However, this is misleading.

Chinese interests only

China may indeed have pressed Iran in the past weeks. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters, ‘China has been making active efforts to ease tensions in the Red Sea from the very beginning.’…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi followers chant slogans as they ride a vehicle in Sana'a, Yemen on 18 January 2024. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

The US redesignation of the Houthis as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) represents continuing inconsistency in its policy towards Yemen – or rather the complete absence of a policy.

During its first weeks in office the Biden administration chose to revoke Trump’s decision to add the Houthis to a similar list. Now the US has rebranded them with the terrorist designation, repeating the same old ignorant mistakes, with apparently no ability to learn from even recent history.

The main difference between Trump’s designation and Biden’s is that the restrictions of the new SDGT categorization can be more easily undone in the event of a de-escalation in hostilities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los hutíes se manifiestan en Yemen tras los ataques aéreos de Estados Unidos y Reino Unido. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Los ataques liderados por Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido contra el grupo rebelde Hutí en Yemen representan un nuevo y dramático giro en el conflicto de Oriente Medio, que podría tener implicaciones en toda la región.

Los ataques del 11 de enero de 2024 alcanzaron unos 60 objetivos en 16 emplazamientos, según el mando de las Fuerzas Aéreas estadounidenses en Oriente Medio, entre ellos en la capital de Yemen, Saná, el principal puerto de Hodeida y Saada, cuna de los hutíes en el noroeste del país.

La acción militar se produce tras semanas de advertencias de Estados Unidos a los hutíes, ordenándoles que dejen de atacar a los buques comerciales en el estratégico estrecho de Bab el-Mandeb, en el Mar Rojo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Houthis rallied in Yemen on Friday. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

By striking Houthi rebel targets in Yemen with Britain on Thursday, Washington sent a searing message to both the Houthis and its Iranian backers that the United States has ended its longstanding defense-only posture in the Red Sea and is determined to stop the group’s attacks against commercial ships in regional waters.

It’s unclear whether that strategy will work, given the intransigence of the Houthis and the fact that they stand to benefit from a fight with the United States. Such a clash boosts their credentials with U.S. foes in the region and distracts from their atrocious governance of northwestern Yemen and the country’s capital.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protest in Sanaa, Yemen on January 11, 2024, against the UN Security Council resolution demanding that Houthis cease all attacks on ships in the Red Sea. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu via Getty Images)

US and UK air strikes on Yemen on 11 and 12 January were characterized by the Biden administration as ‘a clear message’ that the US will not ‘ allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation’ in the Red Sea. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the strikes as ‘ limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence’.

The air strikes come after the Houthis ignored calls to end their assaults, including a private formal letter delivered to the group leadership by the UK on behalf of the international community (according to various senior Houthi leaders).

The US/ UK strikes are presumably intended as the only possible bad choice to pressure the Houthis to end their hostile activity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi forces marching at a parade in Sanaa, Yemen, December 2023. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

The conflict between the United States and the Houthis in the Red Sea is steadily escalating. On December 31, Houthi small boats attempted to attack a commercial vessel; after U.S. naval helicopters responded to the attack, the Houthis—a rebel group that controls territory inhabited by 80 percent of Yemen’s population—fired on them. U.S. forces returned fire, sinking three Houthi boats and killing ten crew members. Then on January 9, the Houthis launched one of their largest attacks in the Red Sea to date including 18 drones, two antiship cruise missiles, and one antiship ballistic missile, which were intercepted by U.S. and British forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

A grab from handout footage released by Yemen's Huthi Ansarullah Media Centre on November 19, 2023, reportedly shows members of the rebel group during the capture of an Israel-linked cargo vessel at an undefined location in the Red Sea. ANSARULLAH MEDIA CENTRE/AFP via Getty Images

Yemen’s Ansar Allah—also known as the Houthis—poses a threat to commercial shipping in the Red Sea. From mid-November through mid-December, the group attacked at least 30 merchant ships in the area, prompting most of the world’s major shippers to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The economic effects of these attacks have yet to be fully realized, but already insurances rates for shipping lines have doubled. Not only that, but circumnavigating Africa requires more time, fuel, and ships than routes through the Suez Canal, resulting in stretched supply chains and increased environmental damage.…  Seguir leyendo »

A screen grab captured from a Houthi Media Center video shows the cargo ship Galaxy being hijacked by Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen in the Red Sea on Nov. 20, 2023. Houthis Media Center/Anadolu via Getty Images

So risky has the Red Sea become since Houthi militants started their attacks on shipping that, since late November, over 350 container ships—plus all manner of tankers, bulk carriers, car carriers, and other merchant vessels—have diverted to other routes. That means massive logistical challenges that involve not just new charts and more fuel but getting crews and cargo to alternative staging posts. Because shipping is extraordinarily efficient, most won’t notice a thing. But if the attacks on shipping continue, we’ll start paying for the service. And we would do well to anticipate Houthi-like campaigns in other waters.

Not a day passes without more turbulence in the Red Sea.…  Seguir leyendo »

El portavoz de los Hutíes, Yahya Saree, interviene en Saná durante una marcha en solidaridad con Gaza. AFP

En una semana, culminamos el turbulento 2023. La invasión masiva de Ucrania, que revolucionó el mundo en 2022, está a dos meses de entrar en su segundo año. Hasta el 7 de octubre, prometía seguir acaparando el foco en 2024. La masacre perpetrada por Hamás en Israel, junto a la respuesta de Benjamín Netanyahu, añadieron una capa de tensión al panorama geopolítico; Kyiv ha pasado a un segundo plano, tanto en las sedes de gobierno como en la atención pública.

La avalancha de protestas que marcaron la mitad de octubre, numerosísimas y nutridas en diversas sociedades -en particular árabes, pero también OTAN-, han dejado al descubierto la precaria estabilidad de geografías muy próximas, además de las quiebras ciudadanas internas de la comunidad atlántica, especialmente en EEUU.…  Seguir leyendo »

A lo largo de miles de años, el Mar Rojo ha tenido un papel crucial en el comercio global. En tiempos de los faraones, era el centro del comercio mundial de especias. Hoy es una arteria planetaria esencial, nutriendo la demanda occidental de hidrocarburos y facilitando el flujo de productos entre Europa y los prósperos mercados asiáticos. Cada año, más del 10% del comercio mundial pasa por la cuenca del Mar Rojo, cifra destinada a elevarse cuando Egipto duplique la capacidad del Canal de Suez.

Y, sin embargo, hasta hoy la mayor parte de la riqueza generada por el comercio sigue rápidamente su camino, dejando poco por su paso.…  Seguir leyendo »