Above photo: BP.
The move comes as Yemen’s Ansarallah continues to target Israel-bound commercial ships in support of Palestine.
BP said it will pause all its tanker traffic through the Red Sea following an escalation of attacks on commercial shipping by Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement in response to Israel’s brutal bombing campaign in Gaza.
“In light of the deteriorating security situation for shipping in the Red Sea, BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea,” the company said in a statement on 18 December.
Similarly, Taiwanese container shipping line Evergreen said on Monday that it has decided to temporarily stop accepting Israeli cargo and instructed its container ships to suspend navigation through the Red Sea until further notice.
The BP and Evergreen announcements follows a similar decision by four major shipping firms, who announced the suspension of passage through the Red Sea on last week. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and CMA CGM – Italian-Swiss and French companies – announced their decision on Saturday. On Friday, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, also announced their decision to halt operations in the Red Sea.
Yemeni naval forces launched missiles against two ships headed for Israel that day.
On Thursday, 14 December, Sanaa announced it carried out a drone strike on the Israel-bound Maersk Gibraltar vessel. Days earlier, Yemeni naval forces launched a missile on a Norwegian ship that was carrying oil and was destined for the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Sanaa’s forces also captured an Israeli-linked vessel last month, taking it back to the coast of Yemen.
As a result of Yemen’s pro-Palestine naval operations, shipping costs in the Red Sea have surged significantly, with companies, including Israeli companies, being forced to reroute ships around the horn of Africa, adding two weeks to any journey toward Europe.
About 12 percent of global trade depends on the Suez Canal and 5 percent on the Panama Canal, according to Marco Forgione, director general at the Institute of Export & International Trade.
“They are fundamental to the flow of international trade,” he said. “Without them operating smoothly, the domino effect of damage and disruption to supply chains caused by ships delayed and in the wrong places will be substantial.”
In response, US officials are seeking to form a maritime task force that will protect ships traveling through the Red Sea from Ansarallah attacks. White House and Pentagon officials have said the White House is working with partners, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to form that group.
US officials have also threatened military action against Ansarallah. “As we’ve demonstrated in the past,” Pentagon spokesperson Gen. Patrick Ryder said last week, “our military will not hesitate to take action where we deem it necessary and appropriate, including to protect against actions in the maritime domain that could threaten our troops.”
If the US succeeds in the creation of an international coalition against Yemen, it would be the “filthiest” coalition known to mankind, Ansarallah politburo member Mohammed al-Bukhaiti said on Sunday.
“How will the countries that rushed to form an international coalition against Yemen to protect the perpetrators of Israeli genocide be perceived?” the top Yemeni official asked.
“How will Yemen, which took administrative and popular action to stop the Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people, be perceived?” he added.