Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis fired two missiles at a Greek-operated vessel reportedly carrying corn to Iran through the Red Sea on Monday, causing damage to the vessel but no casualties.
The vessel, the Star Iris, failed to escape Houthi attacks near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea despite the fact that its cargo was bound for Iran, with the Houthis describing the vessel as American-owned.
The ultimate owner of the vessel is Greek-based Star Bulk Carriers Corp, which is traded on the New York-based NASDAQ stock market.
According to media reports, the vessel was heading to Iran from Brazil with a shipment of corn when it came under attack.
A Houthi military spokesman released a statement following the attack, vowing to “carry out more operations in retaliation to the Zionist crimes against our brothers in the Gaza Strip, as well as in response to the ongoing American-British aggression against our dear country”. This latest attack intensifies concerns related to shipping through the Red Sea en route to or from the Suez Canal, as it remains unclear what the Houthis will consider an “American” vessel. The only link to America in this case was the fact that the company that owned the vessel was publicly listed on a U.S. stock exchange.
In the meantime, China is said to be ramping up Red Sea voyages, hoping to maintain what it views as immunity from Houthi attacks. U.S. and UK airstrikes are believed to have reduced the level of attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, with four attacks reported since January 26, and three of those failing to hit their targets, according to Financial Times’ calculations.
On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank warned that the Israel-Hamas war and the Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping were threatening global financial security and there were already signs that regional economies in the Middle East and North Africa were being hit hard.
“Right now we see a risk of spillover in the Suez Canal,” IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva told a World Governments Summit in Dubai on Monday, as reported by the Times of Israel.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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