US willing to help Pakistan address Houthi attacks in Red Sea

US diplomat hopes Pakistan would take steps to secure movement of ships in the Red Sea

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. — Reuters
The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. — Reuters  
  • Commercial activities of all countries being affected: US envoy.
  • Says US, its allies aware of hardships faced by Yemeni people.
  • Asks Iranian government to cease destabilising actions.

DUBAI: The United States expressed its willingness to cooperate with Pakistan to address the attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia in the Red Sea, saying that it is in contact with officials to ensure secure transportation of ships, The News reported on Sunday.

The development comes after Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile attack on a Pakistan-bound container ship in the Red Sea in December last year. 

There were no injuries to the ship’s crew from the attack. The vessel, the United VIII, was en route from King Abdullah Port, Saudi Arabia to Karachi.

Speaking to The News, Margaret MacLeod, the Urdu language spokesperson for the US State Department, hoped that the Pakistan Navy — as a member of the Combined Maritime Force — would take steps to secure the movement of ships in the Red Sea.

She said commercial activities of all countries in the region are being affected by the Houthi rebels’ attacks. She emphasised the need for support for “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” established under the Combined Maritime Force (CMF), to respond to Houthi-led attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

MacLeod mentioned that the US and its allies are aware of the hardships faced by the Yemeni people. She clarified that the strategy of the new task force against the Houthi rebels is not aggressive but rather a “defensive response” to the attacks on Houthi positions.

Responding to questions about the non-involvement of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in “Operation Prosperity Guardian” against the Houthis, MacLeod said that she is not the spokesperson for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

She said these countries are free to make their own decisions, and Washington encourages all countries in the region to join the task force against the Houthi rebels.

MacLeod also said the attacks by Houthi rebels are affecting the entire region, making it difficult to deliver food items to countries, including Israel. 

In response to a question on weapons supply to the Houthis, she said Iran was supporting the Houthi rebels and providing them with weapons. She claimed that Iran also provides “effective intelligence” to target ships.

She asked the Iranian government to cease destabilising actions in the Middle East and change its attitude immediately, adding that the common Iranian people are also affected by the policies of their government.

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