Saudis Halt Oil Shipments Through Red Sea: A Potential Watershed In The Yemen War

Submitted by James M Dorsey

A spike in oil prices as a result of a temporary halt in shipments through the strategic Bab el Mandeb strait may be short-lived, but the impact on Yemen’s three-year-old forgotten war is likely to put the devastating conflict on the front burner.

The halt following a Saudi assertion that Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had attacked two Saudi oil tankers traversing the waterway drives home the threat the conflict poses to a chokepoint in international trade and the flow of Gulf oil to world markets. The Houthis said they had attacked a Saudi warship rather than oil tankers.

An estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil are shipped daily through Bab al Mandeb that connects the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea off the coast of Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea.

The halt of oil shipments could provoke an escalation of the conflict with external powers intervening in a bid to assist Saudi Arabia and the UAE in defeating the Houthis and dealing a blow to Iran’s regional presence.

By the same token, the halt potentially offers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates an opportunity to focus international attention on resolving a civil war aggravated and turned into a regional conflict by the two Gulf states’ military intervention in March 2015.

Rather than proving to be a swift campaign that would have subdued the Houthis, the intervention has turned into a quagmire and a public relations fiasco for Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

International criticism of their conduct of the war is mounting as a result of its devastating human cost. Voices in the US Congress, the British parliament and other Western legislatures as well as human rights groups calling for a halt of arms sales to Saudi Arabia are growing ever louder.

The armed services panels in the US House and Senate released earlier this week joint defense legislation that demands that the Pentagon tell Congress whether US or Arab coalition forces violated federal law or Pentagon policy. Another provision restricts mid-air US refuelling of coalition aircraft if the UAE and Saudi Arabia fail to demonstrate efforts to support United Nations-backed peace talks, resolve the growing humanitarian crisis, and cut down on civilian deaths.

The war has killed at least 10,000 Yemenis and left more than 22 million people –three-quarters of Yemen’s population – in need of humanitarian aid. At least 8 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine, and 1 million are infected with cholera.

In a most immediate response to the halt, the United States and Britain, eager to benefit from increased arms sales, are likely to step up their support of the Saudi-UAE effort in the Yemen war.

Viewed from Washington as well as Riyadh, the war is one more front in US efforts to force Iran to halt its support of Middle Eastern proxies.

Since the war began, the US and the UK have sold more than $12bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia alone - including some of the warplanes and the payloads they drop.

The US military, moreover, provides mid-air refuelling for Saudi and UAE aircraft, and both British and US personnel assist the Saudis as they target their strikes.

The US, Britain and other powers could look at expanding operations of an anti-piracy alliance in the region created in 2008 in response to Somali piracy. The alliance includes warships patrolling regional waters from all five United Nations Security Council permanent members – the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – as well as other European and Latin American nations, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Singapore, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

The potential for a breakthrough in peace efforts increases when the halt to oil shipments is coupled with a Saudi-UAE threat to besiege the strategic port of Hodeida that could jeopardize the crucial for the flow of humanitarian supplies potentially creates an opportunity for more forceful efforts to bring the Yemen war to an end.

In a letter to US congressional leaders, UAE ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said in June that the Saudi-led Arab force fighting in Yemen is giving the Iran-backed Houthi rebels “the greatest possible opportunity” for a peaceful withdrawal from Hodeida.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths last week put forward a proposal that would avert a fight for Hodeida that has yet to be accepted by all parties. 

The plan reportedly calls for a phased Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida and two other nearby ports, a gradual pullback of UAE forces, UN assistance in staffing the port with Yemenis who would also govern the city of 60,000, and the revival of stalled peace talks.

The possibility of the halt to oil shipments propelling efforts to end the war is enhanced by the fact that the Saudi move has ramifications that go beyond energy security.

The Middle East’s multiple conflicts, including the Saudi-Iranian rivalry and the dispute between Qatar and a Saudi-UAE-led alliance that has imposed a 14-month old diplomatic and economic boycott of the Gulf state has spilled across the Horn of Africa with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and China competing for influence by gaining control of ports and establishing military bases.

The UAE’s strong military and commercial presence in the region is one reason why Chinese President Xi Jinping recent stopped in the Emirates for three days on his way to a tour of Africa.

China likely would favour capitalizing on the Saudi halt to propel peace efforts while the Trump administration more probably will lean towards military intervention that confronts Iran.

Said scholar and author Ellen R. Wald: “The Red Sea is a very important shipping lane. If there is a major disruption European powers, Egypt and the United States would all have reason to intervene. They have significant interests in protecting the freedom of the seas through the passageway. An international intervention against the Houthis may be just what Saudi Arabia wants.”

Comments

BennyBoy DingleBarryObummer Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:34 Permalink

 

The Bab el Mandeb strait is the reason US (CIA/advisers/special farces) are at war in Yemen.

The US only permanent base in Africa is in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, near the Bab el Mandeb strait

Israel uses the Dahlak Island of Eritrea to gather intelligence on the target countries in the region.

The US has a "secret" base just over the Yemen border in saudi sand.

Americans, Chinese, Germans, French, Qataris, Emiratis, Saudi Arabians, Japanese, and Italians all have some form of military presence near the Bab el-Mandeb.

 

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

RationalLuddite BennyBoy Thu, 07/26/2018 - 11:14 Permalink

 

Nice post. Most of us are totally ignorant about Yemen and how the huge oil deposits in Yemen has been deliberately left in the ground by the USA-Saudis until necessary.  They just didn't expect the Yemenis to be as hard to corrupt and subdue with fiat.

2 extensive podcasts on the history and complexity of Yemen by someone who actually knows what they are talking about , Prof Isa Blumi, author of Destroying Yemen

https://youtu.be/scppc-1T6e8

https://youtu.be/6MBWlmRyv7k

In reply to by BennyBoy

reverendspooner DingleBarryObummer Thu, 07/26/2018 - 12:43 Permalink

DingleBarryObummer, you are being ingenious and posting in reply to CheapBastard out of context. I think you would have fitted right into the New Con's Father George Bush's  team during the first Iraqi invasion. I also think you are an ignorant person and have absolutely no knowledge about the middle east and its complexities. Pat your back, your views mirror your elites. But keep in mind, when looking in the mirror, the left is right and right is vise versa, ad infinitum. 

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

Brazen Heist II DingleBarryObummer Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:46 Permalink

The Saudi coalition's strategy is to blockade the Houthis from the Red Sea by moving forces along the coast. Lets hope that fails.

The Saudi vermin and their Anglo-Zionist backers are desperate for a win in Yemen to "prove" to the world that their limp cocks can harden. Even if it means killing tens of thousands of Yemeni people in the process, like they tried to do against the Syrian people.

My advice is for Iran and Russia to step in more in Yemen to flip these fuckers another embarrassing loss of face.

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

Heros Brazen Heist II Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:51 Permalink

No, I think this is about Golan.  Their trotted out their hero feminist yenta who they claim shot down Syrian SU-24 that was attacking Israeli mercenary "ISIS" terrorists in Golan, and this is the first in a series of typical kike escalations.  Apparently they have finally decided that fake chemical weapons attacks are no longer working, so now Israel is saying:  "Golan is ours, back off or else" by getting its Arab ZOG armies led by puppet Saudi Arabia to shut down the Red Sea.    Israel is saying, "If we don't get our way, if we don't get to keep our stolen land, then all goyim will have to suffer".  

In reply to by Brazen Heist II

Brazen Heist II Heros Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:57 Permalink

I doubt it. If they were so touchy about the Golan they would never have allowed the SAA to come within the 1974 demarcation line in the first place, but that's exactly what is happening. The Syrian forces are now bordering the Golan Heights, except for a small pocket of ISIS which is being wiped out as we speak. The Zionists have dumped their useful idiot fake Muslim mercenaries because they understand they have completely lost the war in Syria.

The Houthis have attacked Saudi ships in the Bab el-Mandeeb, which probably made insurance premiums soar for tankers. That plus the Saudis are waging a military operation along the Yemeni coast, is the main reason why I believe they are closing the straight.

In reply to by Heros

Captain Nemo d… Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:17 Permalink

The war has killed at least 10,000 Yemenis and left more than 22 million people –three-quarters of Yemen’s population – in need of humanitarian aid. At least 8 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine, and 1 million are infected with cholera.

In a most immediate response to the halt, the United States and Britain, eager to benefit from increased arms sales, are likely to step up their support of the Saudi-UAE effort in the Yemen war.

The civilized west versus the barbarians. Indeed.

curbjob Captain Nemo d… Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:20 Permalink

Since the war began, the US and the UK have sold more than $12bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia alone - including some of the warplanes and the payloads they drop.

The US military, moreover, provides mid-air refuelling for Saudi and UAE aircraft, and both British and US personnel assist the Saudis as they target their strikes.

Ca'ching;  $ame as it ever wa$

In reply to by Captain Nemo d…

curbjob Byte Me Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:39 Permalink

The intention is much, much moar:

On May 20th, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a series of letters of intent for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to purchase arms from the United States totaling US$110 billion.[1][2][3] The intended purchases include tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, as well as radar, communications and cybersecurity technology. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_United_States–Saudi_Arabia_arms_deal

In reply to by Byte Me

hola dos cola rwe2late Thu, 07/26/2018 - 10:22 Permalink

Ignored or hidden. f.i. Reuters hides it behind "Saudi news" in their headline: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-global-oil/oil-prices-pare-gains-afte…;  (I picked Reuters because they normally hysterically lead the algo's with their headlines re: oil) Probably saving/guarding the freshness of the headlines for when the bankers are ready to make their killing.

“The market is waiting for an actual impact rather than just the headlines,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro bank [while loading up ;-)].

Doesn't know what he's missing: https://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/middle-east/yemen

 

P.S. News situation could change very soon though. Something is brewing. If Trump doesn't take the lead now, coalitions will 'naturally' shift. My guess is you won't like it (any)more after.

In reply to by rwe2late

hola dos cola Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:29 Permalink

According to a website I posted the link of yesterday, the US does plenty more than 'refuellling mid-air'.

https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gul…

includes date and locations of US airstrikes, drone attacks etc. For your amusement check the timeline on the righthand side for the number of casualties/strike.

 

You should be proud. The hoofed one is pleased to call upon your kids to die for... ???... his amusement? BFF-beachfront property? Guzzling your tax $'s? Whatever... It ain't the values the USofA claim to stand for. Ask 'The People' to ask 'the people'.

TeraByte Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:02 Permalink

Reference to Blowing in the Wind
"How many tankers does it take,
before the straits are blocked.
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,
the answer is blowing in the wind".

IronForge Thu, 07/26/2018 - 09:20 Permalink

Now friendlies to YEM can now start Mining their Straits to Piss Everyone Off in the North Atlantic and Club Med - you know - like in NATOCEANIA.

I'm surprised YEM haven't resorted to growing Cannibis and Papaver - you know - like in AFG.

 

The "Spice" must flow...

PrivetHedge Thu, 07/26/2018 - 09:37 Permalink

The halt following a Saudi assertion

They also followed hard pumping of dry wells: Saudi will use any excuse to reduce oil exports as they are running out of the cheap to extract oil.

Unfortunately as an Israeli satanic partner they have also spent 50 years wasting their oil revenues and are now also broke due to the mismanagement of their economy.

50 years of free wealth and nothing to show for it, amazing. Shame their bankruptcy wasn't before they started invading Yemen for their oil and gas supplies.

RationalLuddite PrivetHedge Thu, 07/26/2018 - 11:25 Permalink

Saudi is so low on oil that THEY ARE BUYING IN OIL AND SELLING AS THEIR OWN - SERIOUSLY.  Their claim that they can pump more is utter fantasy. Hence, the long known about but well supressed oil discoveries in Yemen are ripe for the drilling. Below links cover both these little known topics.

Repost of above:

Most of us are totally ignorant about Yemen and how the huge oil deposits in Yemen has been deliberately left in the ground by the USA-Saudis until necessary.  They just didn't expect the Yemenis to be as hard to corrupt and subdue with fiat.

2 extensive podcasts on the history and complexity of Yemen by someone who actually knows what they are talking about , Prof Isa Blumi, author of Destroying Yemen

https://youtu.be/scppc-1T6e8

https://youtu.be/6MBWlmRyv7k

In reply to by PrivetHedge

Wahooo Thu, 07/26/2018 - 10:29 Permalink

If the goal is regional stability and quickly, wouldn’t it make more sense for the US to back the Houthis and overthrow the Saudi monarchy? Certainly Iran would let the spice flow.