RIYADH, September 24 – The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen on Monday announced a plan to open safe routes between Hodeidah and Sanaa, acting both as safe passages for civilian movement and safe routes for transporting humanitarian aid.
The plan is intended to alleviate the suffering of 600,000 people living under the Iranian-backed Houthi administration, who are currently trapped by the fighting.
The Coalition also released an intelligence dossier providing details about what it said was an Iranian-flagged trade vessel named “Saviz”, suspected to be the key command center for coordinating Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.
Briefing reporters and diplomats in Riyadh, the Coalition’s official spokesman, Col. Turki AlMalki, said that Coalition officials are cooperating with the UN Envoy in Yemen, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to establish safe routes to deliver aid through the recently recaptured Hodeidah-Sanaa road.
The joint initiative by the Coalition and OCHA aims to open three routes that would facilitate the transport of humanitarian aid and civilian movement between 6 am and 6 pm daily.
Iranian command ship in the Red Sea
Col. AlMalki also presented an evidence dossier to prove that the “Saviz” – registered as an Iranian trade vessel – plays a central role in commanding operations for the Houthis to launch maritime attacks against vessels in Bab El Mandab Strait.
Col. AlMalki said that the vessel also provides logistical support and carries large amounts of military equipment for the Houthis.
Photos presented by the Coalition during the press conference highlighted the ship’s elaborate and advanced communication and radar equipment, unusual for cargo ships. This is an indicator that it is a military vessel operating under the guise of a commercial ship.
Other photos also show the presence of small arms onboard. In addition, other imagery indicates the loading of unidentified cargo into one of the three speedboats, presumably for a cargo delivery to the Houthis.
Satellite data indicates that the vessel has been in a holding pattern off the international shipping lanes in the Red Sea since mid-2017, and is currently stationed 87 nautical miles from Kamaran Island, and 95 nautical miles from the port of Hodeidah.
The unusual behavior of “Saviz” has previously attracted the attention of media and Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) analysts – both in November 2017 and July of 2018, after a Houthi missile hit a Saudi tanker passing by Bab El Mandeb, leading to suspicions that it might have acted as a mother ship to orchestrate Houthi marine attacks.
Operating under different names, the vessel has also been previously sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The spokesperson emphasised that the smuggling activities of this ship are yet another indication that the Iranian regime continues to violate international law and undermine the security of the region and the rest of the world.