LONDON: The Houthi militia claimed on Tuesday it was ready to halt attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.
The announcement came days after Saudi Arabia suspended oil exports through the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait after the militants attacked crude tankers last week.
The narrow entrance to the Red Sea is a major conduit for global oil supplies, but the route has been threatened by repeated Houthi attacks from the Yemen coastline under the militia’s control.
“The unilateral halt in naval military operations will be for a limited time period and could be extended and include all fronts if this move is reciprocated by the leadership of the coalition,” the head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, said in a statement.
It was not clear whether the group would halt its attacks immediately or how long the cessation would last, Reuters reported.
Khalid Al-Falih, the Saudi energy minister, said on Thursday that the Kingdom would halt oil shipments through the strait after the Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers, one of which sustained light damage, until “the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab Al-Mandeb is safe.”
Saudi Arabia exports an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 barrels per day through Bab Al-Mandeb.
The threat to shipping comes as Yemeni pro-government troops supported by the Saudi-led Arab coalition have reached the edge of Yemen’s biggest port Hodeidah, which is still held by the Houthis.
UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has been shuttling between the two sides to broker a peace deal ahead of a coalition assault to capture the city.
The war in Yemen was sparked when the Houthis and their allies seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 from the internationally-recognized government and attempted to seize large parts of the country. The Arab coalition intervened in early 2015 after the Houthis invaded Aden.