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Houthi-Cast Naval Mines Threaten International Navigation near Midi, Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A naval mine cast by Houthi militants off Yemen coastline, SPA

Jeddah – Sweeping regional waters, Arab Coalition Forces command said Saudi royal navy joint forces detecting a number of maritime mines on Yemeni coasts near the Red Sea port of Midi.

The port holds great military and strategic significance– it is regularly used for trafficking arms to Houthi militias leading an insurgency in Yemen.

Special forces surveyed the mines, later announcing that they are primitive and poorly placed in a desperate attempt by Houthi militias to compromise the safety of international waters.

Military reports from the Yemeni National Army confirmed Monday that Houthi militias had spread mines across Bab al-Mandab Strait and are responsible for planting mines near Midi port. Iran-backed militias had feared support backing pro-government forces in Yemen docking in Midi.

Saudi-led Arab Coalition military command stressed the danger imposed by the mines, threatening the safety and navigation of international and commercial shipping, relief vessels and aid entering the Yemeni cities and governorates. Naval mines are easily affected by current flow, and have been detected floating towards vital transit waterways.

Naval mines are considered to be in violation of international law, as they pose a serious threat to international ships and a clear threat obstructing strategic navigational corridors.

On the other hand, Houthi political leadership openly acknowledged the group’s involvement in planting mines near central ports, justifying the violation as a Houthis acting based on the right to self-defense.

Houthi political figures claimed that Houthis militiamen do not intend on impeding maritime navigation.

The statement issued by Houthi political offices—claiming responsibility for laying the mines and threatening international—came a few days after Human Rights Watch condemned Houthi gunmen and putschists for using banned mines in Yemen. Hundreds of civilians were killed, maimed and displaced as a result.

Houthi and armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh have consistently violated arms bans.

Meanwhile, military intelligence in Yemen confirmed that some 35,000 mines planted by Houthi militias and pro-Saleh militants were planted in deprived areas.

The pro-government Yemeni National Army has formed 11 special teams tasked with defusing and disposing of the Houthi-planted mines. It is worth noting that landmines used by insurgents are prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty of 1997, which Yemen signed the under the then President Saleh on September.