CAIRO: Former Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyad Yassin said Tuesday Egypt should move fast to secure the Bab al-Mandeb strait to prevent its control by Houthi forces.
He told Youm7 that the Egyptian government must secure the strait as a strategic waterway for Egypt’s national security and the main entrance for access to the Suez Canal.
The strait is located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, and is crucial to maritime navigation.
The Houthis gained control over many cities in northern Yemen in September 2014; the group clashed with the U.S.-allied Yemeni Army in Sanaa in January, and put Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet members under house arrest.
Suez Canal Authority Chairperson Mohab Mamish said in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper Monday that the “great powers” would not allow the strait to be dominated or the maritime navigation to be stopped.
In a news conference Feb. 4, Mamish announced “Egypt will not accept the closure of the strait in any way, and would intervene militarily if needed…this action affects Egyptian national security, and has a direct impact on the Suez Canal.”
Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said in an interview in February “we never allow any threat against Egyptian national security.”
Houthi spokesperson Mohamed Abdel Salam told Youm7 Friday that the strait will never be closed, saying “We respect Egypt, its people, its president, and all the agreements signed between Yemen and the neighboring countries.”
AP reported Feb. 23 that “Egypt has set up a special rapid deployment force” to take military action and intervene if the Houthis threatened maritime navigation through the strait.
A U.S. military delegation visited Egypt on Jan. 26 and discussed the latest developments in Yemen, and their possible effect on maritime navigation, DPA reported.
Additional Reporting by Mustafa Anbar