An official in the Houthi-led government in the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, has stated that they cannot be held responsible if an aging oil tanker currently anchored offshore starts leaking crude oil into the Red Sea. Such a leak would have a damaging impact on the environment and the humanitarian situation in the country.
“We deny responsibility for any leakage from the tanker,” insisted Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi of the Supreme Political Council. “We call for negotiations over this issue in a serious manner.”
نخلي مسؤوليتنا عن اي تسرب في خزان صافر وندعو الى المضي قدما في التفاوض حول الموضوع بشكل جدي
وأي نتيجة كارثية تحصل لا سمح الله فنحمل المسؤلية الكاملة لأمريكا والسعودية وتحالفهما بسبب استمرار الحصار وعدم السماح ببيع النفط المخزن في صهريج صافر العائم
وسبق أن حملناهم المسؤلية عن ذلك
— محمد علي الحوثي (@Moh_Alhouthi) June 18, 2020
Bloomberg reports that the decaying vessel has been stationed off the Houthi-controlled province of Hudaydah since 1988 and is believed to be holding over 1 million barrels of crude oil. The important port has been under blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition since its intervention in Yemen five years ago. Most essential humanitarian and commercial imports enter the country through the port.
The Saudi-based, UN-recognised Yemeni government has repeatedly claimed that the Houthis will be to blame for any leaks as the tanker is within territory under Houthi-control. It has also alleged that the Houthis refused to let a UN team visit and assess its condition. However, Mohammed Al-Houthi said that the US-backed coalition should in fact be held accountable, owing to the fact that it has prevented the Houthis from selling the tanker’s oil.
Earlier this week the British Ambassador to Yemen said that the Houthi authorities must allow a UN team to inspect the vessel. Meanwhile, Yemen’s Minister of Information, Muammar Al-Eryani, warned that an explosion on board could have disastrous consequences for fuel shortages and food prices, which could double, as well as the country’s fishing industry.