Yemen’s Houthis have rejected a UN Security Council demand to release the UAE-flagged Rwabee, which it presented as a civilian cargo vessel, and said needed to be immediately released in the name of freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.
When the ship was taken earlier this month, the Saudis insisted it contained field hospital equipment and was purely civilian in nature. The unanimous UN Security Council statement roughly mirrored that claim.
The 15-member Security Council is demanding “the immediate release of the vessel and its crew” and stressed “the necessity of ensuring the crew’s safety and well-being” in the statement drafted by the United Kingdom.
This whole narrative was already discredited long ago. Almost immediately after the ship’s capture, the Houthis released photos and video footage showing that the ship was carrying, almost exclusively, weapons and armored vehicles, not hospital equipment.
But Al Jazeera in its latest reporting asserted:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has described the Rwabee as a “civilian cargo vessel” that was leased by a Saudi company and had been in international waters carrying equipment to be used at a field hospital.
This was quickly contradicted by the Houthi side:
Houthi official Hussein al-Azzi has claimed it was transporting military assets. “The Rwabee vessel was not carrying… toys for children but weapons for extremists,” he told the Houthis’ Al Masirah television.
The Houthis’ media wing had published photos purporting to show military equipment aboard the seized vessel:
— YemenOnline (@Editoryemen) January 15, 2022
A testament to Security Council members’ eagerness to keep the Saudis happy, the already falsified claim is just being stuck to for policy proclamations, and they’ll no doubt be angry that the Houthis didn’t release the shipload of weapons.