SANAA, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The takeover of Yemen's Hodeidah seaport on the Red Sea by Houthi rebels, who are also in control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, could threaten to thwart all maritime navigation in the area and hurt Egypt's economy, prominent journalist and analyst Faisal Hajj told RIA Novosti Thursday.
Hodeidah is the second-largest seaport in the Arabian Peninsula after Aden, and an important hub for international commerce. Its seizure by Shiite insurgents has put the military group in control of the entire Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
"The fact that they [Houthi rebels] have gained access to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which is a corridor for mega tankers, poses a threat to the interests of Gulf states and the world," Faisal Hajj said.
He stressed the loss of governmental control over this Red Sea gateway and a key port for the oil trade could lead to a rise in maritime piracy and arms trafficking, boosting the rebels' military capabilities and further destabilizing Yemen.
The analyst continued, saying the takeover of Hodeidah port could threaten commercial shipping in the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. It brings an annual $5 billion to Egyptian economy and is considered to be its major contributor.
Houthi rebels seized Yemen's capital Sanaa on September 21. The insurgents are still in control of the entrances into Sanaa, as well as many of residential buildings in the city.
The Houthis, or the Ansarullah, are the main opposition force in Yemen. The Shiite group has been carrying out protests in the country since mid-August, demanding the resignation of the Yemeni government, which they say is corrupt and marginalizes the Shiite community in the country.