As noted earlier, the biggest significance of any Yemen conflict has little to do with its own domestic oil production, which at 133,000 bpd is negligible, but due to its location, which not only shares a border with Saudi Arabia, but more importantly due to the Bab el-Mandeb strait which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden: it is the fourth-biggest shipping chokepoint in the world by volume (3.8 million barrels a day of oil and petroleum products flowed through it in 2013) and is just 18 miles wide at its narrowest point. It’s located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
And since to Saudi Arabia preserving the logistics of oil supply is critical, it is hardly surprising that as Egypt's Ahram Gate reported earlier, the Saudi-led Firmness Storm coalition imposed a naval blockade on Bab El-Mandab strait earlier today. The Saudi navy's western fleet has also secured Yemen's main ports including Aden and Midi.
It is not just Saudi Arabia: moments ago Reuters reported that four Egyptian naval vessels have crossed the Suez Canal en route to Yemen to secure the Gulf of Aden, maritime sources at the Suez Canal said on Thursday. The sources said they expected the vessels to reach the Red Sea by Thursday evening.
The naval blockade is just part of what so far has been mostly an air-based proxy war. As Al Arabia reported previously, as part of the "Decisive Storm" coalition against the Yemen rebels, Saudi Arabia has deployed at least 150,000 soldiers in preparation for what appears to be a land assault next, an assault that already has the preemptive blessing of the US. As a reminder, Saudi Arabia will be fighting US-armed rebels, but that's a different story.
Just as importantly, and since as we reported first yesterday the Yemen conflict is merely a proxy war between the Saudis and Iran, we also now have reports that Iran has condemned Saudi Arabia's intervention, is demanding an immediate halt to the military action, and has warned that a war on Yemen won't be contained in one area.
Iran demanded an immediate halt to Saudi-led military operations in Yemen on Thursday and said it would make all necessary efforts to control the crisis there, Iranian news agencies reported.
"The Saudi-led air strikes should stop immediately and it is against Yemen's sovereignty," the Students News Agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying. "We will make all efforts to control the crisis in Yemen," Zarif said, according to the agency's report from the Swiss city of Lausanne where he is negotiating with six world powers to resolve a years-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Earlier on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran called for an end to the military operation.
"Iran wants an immediate halt to all military aggressions and air strikes against Yemen and its people," Fars quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying.
"Military actions in Yemen, which faces a domestic crisis, ... will further complicate the situation ... and will hinder efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful ways."
Prior to that, Bloomberg cited the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, who told Iran's Fars News Agency that Saudi Arabia’s strikes on Yemen will haunt the kingdom as war won’t be contained,
So as the proxy war snags more and more countries, threatens to become less proxy, more war and much more global, keep an eye on Russia which is caught in that "other" proxy war from 2014 and which is also going nowhere fast. Because if and when Russia and China pick sides and get involved, that's when it may be a good time to take a vacation far away from any major metropolitan areas.