Ship in the Suez CanalPhoto: Ahmed Gomaa / Xinhua News / Profimedia
An example is the live animal transport ship “Cattle Force”, which appealed to the Houthi rebels in their capacity as co-religionists, to ensure its safe passage through the Red Sea. On Sunday, as it approached the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the ship changed its destination signal, which is visible on the Internet to most ships, from an Iraqi port to the phrase:
“All crew members are Muslims.”
On Monday morning, after passing safely through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, the ship returned to its previous destination signal, namely the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg. The change is intended to send a message to the Houthi rebels, who say they are targeting ships with ties to Israel and its allies to pressure them to end the war in Gaza.
Previously, merchant ships flagged destinations as “No connection with Israel” to avoid being targeted by the Houthi rebels. Through the Suez Canal, located at the end of the Red Sea, between 12% and 15% of world trade in goods and between 25% and 30% of maritime container transport pass.
For the European Union, in 2022, approximately 23% of all imported goods came via ships from Asia and the vast majority of these ships passed through the Suez Canal. Due to attacks launched by the Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea, major shipping companies have decided to redirect their ships to a longer and more expensive route, which involves bypassing the Cape of Good Hope.
But this route adds 10 to 15 days to a trip between Asia and Europe.