Two days ago I discussed the reported hope the Biden administration has to get China’s help in the U.S. conflict with Yemen.
To Hope That China Will Help With Yemen Is Delusional Bullshit – Moon of Alabama, Jan 23, 2024
Chinese ship do not get bothered by Yemini forces. They only targeted ships were related to Israel and, since the U.S. and UK bombed Houthi positions, ships related to those countries are also under attack.
We have now learned why U.S. officials had expressed hope for Chinese help. The Financial Times reports of previous backroom talks with China about the issue.
US urges China to help curb Red Sea attacks by Iran-backed Houthis (archived) – FT – Jan 24, 2024
The US has asked China to urge Tehran to rein in Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea, but has seen little sign of help from Beijing, according to American officials.
Officials have repeatedly raised the matter with top Chinese officials in the past three months, asking them to convey a warning to Iran not to inflame tensions in the Middle East after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel and the ensuing war.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy, Jon Finer, discussed the issue in meetings this month in Washington with Liu Jianchao, head of the Chinese Communist party’s international department, according to US officials. Secretary of state Antony Blinken also raised it, said a state department official.
This is so laughable that it is nearly sad.
Again, Chinese ships do net get bothered by Yemen. That other ships now have to avoid the Red Sea route and take an extra 14 days to sail around Africa gives China’s container fleet a business advantage. So why did anyone in the White House even thought about asking China for help?
As Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism snarked about asking for Chinese help:
Before we go to war with them, or after?
Last night the U.S. Navy tried to escort two U.S. owned and flagged container carriers, the Maersk Detroit and Maersk Chesapeake, through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait into the Red Sea.
The Yemenis responded by firing three anti ship missiles at them. Two missile were intercepted by a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Gravely, but one exploded near to one of the container carriers:
The U.S. Central Command confirmed details of the incident in a statement posted to “X”.
“On Jan. 24 at approximately 2 p.m. (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the U.S.-flagged, owned, and operated container ship M/V Maersk Detroit, transiting the Gulf of Aden. One missile impacted in the sea. The two other missiles were successfully engaged and shot down by the USS Gravely (DDG 107). There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship,” the statement said.
These were not purely civilian ships involved in the private transport of consumer goods:
The Maersk Detroit and Maersk Chesapeake are operated by Maersk Line, Limited (MLL), Maersk’s US-flag subsidiary. Both ships are enrolled in the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Maritime Security Program and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) with the U.S government.
Maersk said the vessels are carrying cargo belonging to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, USAID, and other U.S. government agencies and “is therefore afforded the protection of the U.S. Navy for passage.”
As a result, Maersk Line, Limited has made the decision to suspend transits in the region in until further notice, a significant development considering MLL’s role in transporting U.S. military and government cargo. MLL is not only the largest owner and operator of US flag vessels trading internationally, but also the largest participant in the VISA/MSP programs.
These ships were most likely carrying munitions for Israel.
The incident happened twelve hours after the U.S. and UK had bombed Yemeni positions for the 9th time.
CENTCOM reported of the strike:
On Jan. 24 at approximately 2:30 a.m.(Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command forces conducted strikes against two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed into the Southern Red Sea and were prepared to launch. U.S. forces identified the missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region. U.S. forces subsequently struck and destroyed the missiles in self-defense. This action will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels.
This is, again, clear evidence that bombing the Yemeni Houthi government forces has zero impact on their capabilities and motivation. It, in fact, encourages them to try harder.
The whole U.S. policy of ‘helping Israel’ by (unsuccessfully) countering the Houthi blockade of Israel related ships was wrong from the very beginning. The unsuccessful blockade run by U.S. DoD transports proves that it has failed.
But the whole operation has increased the cost for transporting goods between the Europe and Asia and endangers ships unrelated to the conflict.
The Houthi announced their blockade for Israel related ships in the Red Sea on December 9 2023. The U.S. announced, on December 21, a coalition to protect Israeli related shipping in the Red Sea. Only after that had happened did the traffic through the Suez channel decrease.
Now ask how the populations in Europe (and Asia) will feel about the U.S. operation when price inflation, induced by such U.S. actions, will again hit them where it hurts them most.
Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.