The Egyptian Armed Forces are confident that the crisis in Yemen will not affect traffic in the Suez Canal, according to a statement released on Friday by former military general and strategic analyst Abdel Moneim Kato.
After Saudi-led military operations against Huthi insurgents in Yemen were launched Wednesday, there were concerns that the unrest could impact important trade routes, such as the Bab al-Mandeb Strait that links the Red Sea through the Gulf of Eden.
In his statement, Kato said that Saudi and Egyptian forces secured the strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait last month in a joint military maneuver in anticipation of the potential escalation of conflict in the area. Some 3.8 million barrels of oil pass through Bab al-Mandeb each day, making it a crucial point in the global crude trade.
On Thursday, US army forces also proclaimed that they would work with European and Gulf partners to keep the strait secure.
Adnan al-Edeiny, spokesperson for the Yemen Coalition for Reform, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, told the privately owned newspaper Al-Shorouk that the coalition was ready to cooperate with Egypt in securing the strait.
“If we were asked by Egypt, we will not hesitate to respond, especially if it’s a matter of Arab national security,” Edeiny said. “We all have to put our political and ideological differences aside. We are cooperating with the country, not the regime.”
Edeiny added that the military operation will open the door to a political dialogue with the Houthis, and that the coalition is still pushing for a political solution that would save Yemen from a daunting civil war.
Bab al-Mandeb is a strait between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, and acts as a strategic link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
After months of low oil prices, the US oil benchmark suddenly rose to US$50 a barrel following the start of the airstrikes on Houthi targets, with the Wall Street Journal reporting on Thursday that “oil prices vaulted to their biggest gains in more than a month.”