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Advisory: Yemen

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 Advisory Update 049

Advisory Type: Warning regarding port of Al Hudaydah, Yemen.
Date: 27/04/2015
Information Source: Allmode/ SicuroIMS/UK P&I club

On May 27th 2015, Saudi-led warplanes and ships bombed Yemen’s largest military port of Al Hudaydah, which is home to a large naval base which is aligned with the Iran-allied Houthis militia.

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This is the most serious attack on the countries navy in over two months and could signal a renewed offensive in the key cities and ports.

During the raid facilities were damaged, 7 gunboats were destroyed, 2 warships were partly destroyed and there was damage to a weapons store. The five Saudi-led gunships also shelled the administrative building at the base. Reports suggest that 23 pro-Houthis were killed and 18 injured. (Sources: SicuroIMS)

With the exception of the Port of Aden, all Yemini Ports remain open and operational; however, all commercial vessels must be cleared by Coalition Navy before they are allowed to berth and even after inspection there is no guarantee that that the coalition forces will allow the vessel to proceed to berth.

The majority of vessels operating in and around ports within Yemen are operating at Marsec level 2. However, some flag states including the NMA have instructed all Norweigan flagged vessels to raise their security level to MarSec level 3 if scheduled to arrive the port of Hodaydah, Balhaf and the terminal Ash Shihr in Yemen, until further notice.

MARSEC Level 2 means the level for which appropriate additional protective security measures shall be maintained for a period of time as a result of heightened risk of a transportation security incident.

MARSEC Level 3 means the level for which further specific protective security measures shall be maintained for a limited period of time when a transportation security incident is probable, imminent, or has occurred, although it may not be possible to identify the specific target.

Due to the continued conflict and instability within Yemen the UK P&I Club issued an update on Yemen earlier this month which included a circular by the ‘International Maritime Employees Committee’ (IMEC) stating that it had been agreed that all ports within the country of Yemen be declared areas of wartime operations. For more information on the IBF Framework agreement for Warlike Operations see the following website address:

http://www.ukpandi.com/fr/knowledge/industry-developments/situation-in-yemen-april-2015/.

The situation in Yemen remains increasingly tense and changeable and any vessel considering port calls in Yemen are strongly advised to carry out a thorough risk assessment and mariners should maintain a high state of awareness

 

Advisory Type: Political Instability / civil
Date: 25/03/2015
Information Source: Allmode

 

Yemen is effectively slipping into civil war. With a multi-faceted conflict involving the US/Saudi backed former government of President Hadi and his still loyal security forces, and the Iranian backed al-Houthi rebels.

This conflict is overlaid by a secondary conflict between al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) who are fighting each other, the al-Houthis AND the former government/loyalist security forces concurrently.

The arrival of ISIS in Yemen could help fuel a broader sectarian war. They carried out five suicide bombings in Yemen on the 20th March (these being the first by ISIS in Yemen) killing at least 126 people. The targeting of Zaydi Shia mosques will fundamentally change political and security dynamics.

Events have escalated over the past week, with the aerial-bombing of the Presidential Palace in Aden on the 19th March (conducted by pro Houthi pilots of the Yemeni Air force1 ), from where Hadi is trying to establish a rival government in the south to challenge the authority of the one now under Iranian-backed al Houthi control in the capital, Sana’a. On the same day, clashes caused the International Airport in Aden to close, with the eventual expulsion of the pro-Houthis head of the Special Security Forces (SSF) Abdul Hafiz al Saqqaf, from Aden.As at the 25th March the situation has again changed, with Houthi rebels entering the suburbs of Aden and capturing the al-Anad airbase near President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's southern refuge2 .

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Al Houthis fighters are now said to be trying to consolidate their control in northern and central Yemen and making advances on the southern region provinces3 . On the 19th March the al Houthis deployed a large force along the Ma’rib-al Bayda border, a province strategically important for its oil infrastructure. Reports have also indicated that the clashes are moving northwest of Aden to Tiaz, Yemen’s third most influential city and home to some of the strategic ports on the Red Sea coastline, such as al-Mukha. Their entry into al-Mukha takes them to within 80 km (50 miles) north of Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which links the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal and Red Sea and is a main transit route for trade.

AQAP and ISIS are capitalising on this conflict to expand their control in Yemen’s southern and eastern governorates of Ma‘rib and al Bayda4 .

In a report published in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on the 24th March, it was revealed that former President Hadi had called on the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) to send its Peninsula Shield force to intervene militarily and prevent the fall of Aden5 . The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal has been reported as warning, "If the Houthi coup does not end peacefully, we will take the necessary measures for this crisis to protect the region." Saudi Arabia is sending troops, including armour and artillery to its southern border with Yemen.

1 BBC, "Yemen crisis: Houthi rebels 'capture air base' near Aden", 25 Mar 2015, 10:00 GMT
2 Al Jazeera, "Yemen's Houthis advance towards Aden", 25 Mar 2015, 10:25 GMT
3 BBC, "Yemen crisis: Houthi rebels push into southern areas", 24 Mar 2015
4 NBC News, "The shadow war In Yemen", 25 Mar 2015, 09:52 GMT
5 Ashaq Al-Awsat, "Yemen’s Hadi calls for no-fly zone, GCC military intervention", 23 Mar 2015
6 Reuters, "Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border - U.S. officials", 25 Mar2015, 00:49 GMT

In a move that indicates the volatility of the situation, the U.S. special operation forces have evacuated Yemen (though they still have the capacity to monitor the region from the air and electronically7 . The United Nations Security Council will hold an urgent meeting on Sunday (29 March) to discuss the situation in Yemen. It is therefore essential that all parties that have a vested interest in Yemen or transiting through the region remain updated daily as to the unfolding situation and stay on alert to withdraw from the region at a moment’s notice. The UK Foreign Commonwealth Office have advised against all travel to Yemen. This includes the mainland and all islands and they advise that all foreign personnel leave immediately.8


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