According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Iranian warships will accompany a cargo vessel bound for the port Hodaida in Yemen. The cargo ship is being held by Iran-allied Houthi fighters.
The Iranian-flagged Iran Shahed, owned by Valfajr Shipping (based in Tehran) is supposedly carrying humanitarian aid to the population in the country, which is facing a great need for food and supplies.
On April 12, the navigation in the territorial waters of Yemen was banned by the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Under the Yemeni official forbiddance, ships are not allowed into the country’s seawaters except when the ships are inspected and approved by the Saudi-led coalition forces.
Referring to a destroyer and support vessel, which are patrolling international waters off Yemen, Admiral Hossein Azad said:
“The 34th fleet, which is currently in the Gulf of Aden, has special responsibility to protect the Iranian humanitarian aid ship.”
Iranian officials says the warships are necessary in case Saudi-led coalition forces try to intercept the humanitarian cargo vessel. From the other side, Saudi Arabia has launched a naval blockade of Yemen, which is part of its campaign against the Houthi rebels. The decision intended to stop shipments that could assist the Houthi led forces in their conflict with the government.
Iran has insisted that the cargo vessel is only carrying humanitarian aid. FARS, one of the country’s news agency says that seven activists from the US and Europe are on board the ship.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of trying to arm the Shia Houthi rebels and the coalition has said it intercepted cargo vessels bound for Yemen on a number of occasions, including the Iran Shahed that headed for the port on Monday.
Saudi Arabia stated that only emergency food and medical aid ships are allowed to pass through territorial waters of Yemen and only after being searched.
A five-day ceasefire is set to come into effect, after the two conflicting sides in Yemen agreed on it, which will allow food and medicines to be brought into into the war-torn country.
More than 90 percents of Yemen’s import is food transported mainly by sea. The country is struggling to feed its population for weeks. Humanitarian aid groups say that Yemen is facing a humanitarian catastrophe.