Ecological disaster looms after Houthi ship attack

The internationally recognized Yemeni government on Feb. 24 issued an urgent plea to the international community following a Houthi attack on the Rubymar, a British-owned, Belize-flagged cargo ship carrying hazardous materials through the Red Sea six days earlier. The attack has raised fears of an imminent environmental disaster due to the potential leakage of ammonia fertilizer and oil from the abandoned and damaged vessel.

Yemen has formed an emergency committee tasked with crafting a plan to mitigate the threat, seeking to have the ship towed to the government-controlled port of Aden before it sinks. But the Houthis, who control much of Yemen's territory, say they will only allow salvage or mitigation efforts in exchange for entry of relief aid into the Gaza  Strip. The ship is currently drifting toward the Hanish Islands, off the coast from Houthi-controlled lands. The US Central Command reports that a a 30-kilometer oil slick is already spreading from the stricken vessel, foreboding a significant ecological crisis in the area.

The Rubymar, managed by a Lebanese firm and en route from the United Arab Emirates to Bulgaria, reported no crew injuries in the attack but is taking in water. Local environmentalists are concerned about the impact a spill could have on the Red Sea's ecosystem. Amid increased Houthi attacks on international shipping, the Yemeni government's call for help underscores the critical need for a coordinated effort to prevent a catastrophe. (The Media Line, AA, NYT, Asharq Al-Awsat)

Houthis in first fatal assault on shipping

A Houthi missile attack on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden March 6 killed three crew members and forced survivors to abandon the vessel, the US military said. The attack on the Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier True Confidence further escalates the conflict on a crucial maritime route linking Asia and the Middle East to Europe that has disrupted global shipping. (NPR