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AL-MUKALLA: US Central Command forces destroyed on Monday an explosive-laden and remotely controlled boat readied for launch by Yemen’s Houthi militia, as a UK marine agency reported a new incident in the Red Sea.

CENTCOM said its forces destroyed a Houthi unmanned surface vessel after ascertaining that it intended to strike US-led marine coalition forces and international commercial ships in the Red Sea.

“These actions are necessary to protect our forces, ensure freedom of navigation, and make international waters safer and more secure for US, coalition, and merchant vessels,” CENTCOM said on X.

Houthi media reported on Monday that US and UK airplanes struck the district of Al-Taif in the western province of Hodeidah, the latest round of raids by the two countries’ militaries against Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in response to Yemeni militia attacks on ships.

At the same time, the UK Maritime Trade Operations agency, which monitors ship attacks, cautioned ships cruising in the Red Sea on Monday to exercise caution after receiving alerts from a master ship regarding an incident 150 nautical miles northwest of Yemen’s western Hodeidah.

“The master of the vessel reported that they were hailed by an entity claiming to be Yemeni Navy who requested the vessel turn on its automatic identification system,” UKMTO said, adding: “Shortly after the hailing, a crew member of the vessel reported that they heard suspected gunshots.”

Despite the US military and the UK marine agency’s repeated statements about Houthi strikes in the Red Sea, the Houthis have not formally claimed responsibility for new attacks on the critical maritime waterway since March 26.

Since November, the Houthis have launched hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones, and remotely operated boats at commercial and navy ships sailing through international waters off Yemen in what the Yemeni militia says are efforts in support of the Palestinian people.

The Houthis say that their attacks aim to push Israel to break its embargo on the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The US responded to Houthi attacks by launching retaliatory strikes against Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and redesignating the Houthi militia as a terrorist group.

The US State Department said on Monday that Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, will be visiting Saudi Arabia and Oman to discuss steps to de-escalate the current situation and renew focus on securing a durable peace for the Yemeni people.

The UN-brokered peace talks to end the Yemen war have mostly stagnated since the Houthis initiated attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, the Aden-based central bank ordered commercial, Islamic, and microfinance banks on Tuesday to relocate their main operations from Houthi-controlled Sanaa to Aden, the interim capital of Yemen, within two months, only days after the Houthis released a new coin currency.

The central bank said in a statement that it asked banks to leave Sanaa after the Houthis issued a new currency in violation of the country’s monetary laws, banned the circulation of Aden-printed currency, and issued financial laws that could destroy Yemen’s monetary system, as well as risk freezing Sanaa-based bank accounts abroad.

“Any bank that fails to shift its operations center to Aden, the interim capital, during the specified term would face legal action under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Law,” the bank said in a statement.

On Saturday, the Sanaa-based central bank announced the issuance of a new 100-riyal coin for the first time in a decade, prompting the central bank in Aden to label the currency as “fake” and warning individuals and financial institutions in Houthi-controlled areas not to use it.

Mustafa Nasr, director of the Studies and Economic Media Center, told Arab News that the central bank’s move to Aden comes amid a deepening economic war between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthis, predicting that the Houthis may retaliate against banks that relocate operations to Aden.

“The banks in Sanaa are between a rock and a hard place; if they comply with the Aden central bank, they might be severely punished by the Houthis; if they don’t, they might lose the legitimacy of operating because the central bank in Aden is an internationally recognized authority,” Nasr said.

 

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