Houthi attacks relaunch the 'Saudi corridor' between the Gulf and Israel

In the last few hours, pro-Iranian militiamen have hit a British boat while it was sailing in the Gulf of Aden. A heavy obstacle in the routes between East and West. Hence the acceleration of the 'alternative' project to the Chinese Silk Road, advocated by India and the United States. The protests of the Muslim world.

Dubai (AsiaNews) - The Houthi attacks on boats heading towards the Red Sea, the latest of which occurred in recent hours and hit a British ship in the Gulf of Aden which ended up under a hail of missiles, is forcefully relaunching a new trade route: a "corridor" which, starting from India, crosses the Gulf by land to arrive at the Israeli port of Haifa, and then continues the route towards the countries of the European Union.

The project, renamed "new Silk Road" in contrast to the Chinese one, is becoming increasingly concrete thanks to teh recent war launched by Israel against Hamas in Gaza and the repercussions in the Middle Eastern region (not least the obstacles to trade).

In a note relaunched by the satellite TV broadcaster al-Masirah, the Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea reports that the pro-Iranian rebel militias in Yemen carried out an operation "against a British ship, the Lycavitos, while it was sailing in the Gulf of Aden".

The missiles, the statement continues, would have hit the vessel "directly and accurately" as it sailed from the Indian Ocean to Aden. “We will continue to attack - concludes the statement - ships linked to Israel or those headed towards Israeli ports in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, until the aggression in Gaza stops and the siege of the Palestinian people is not over. revoked."

To overcome attacks by militiamen linked to Iran, the idea is to strengthen the development of the so-called alternative to the Chinese Silk Road, an economic corridor between India, the Middle East and Europe signed in recent months in New Delhi, on the sidelines of the G20 .

Supported by Washington, it sees the adhesion of, among others, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, which would play a leading role in the project as emerges more and more clearly in these weeks of regional tension and crisis in transport.

The contribution of Jordan and Israel is also important: the latter, in fact, represents the door that opens connections to Europe across the Mediterranean, as well as encouraging the development of relations behind the scenes with Riyadh, awaiting full diplomatic relations which the Saudis condition on the recognition of a Palestinian state.

The Houthi missiles and drones appear to be a further driving force for the project, in particular with regards to the development of an alternative "land bridge" to transport trucks from the Gulf to Jordan, Israel and Egypt via Saudi Arabia.

As Voice of America (Voa) reports in an indepth article, the project has in fact already taken hold with dozens of vehicles reaching the port of Haifa in Israel every day although Riyadh - at least for the moment - is not willing to advertise too much agreement.

The connection remains a source of controversy in the region - and in the Muslim world - due to the involvement of the Jewish state, raising protests as happened last week in Jordan: hundreds marched through the streets of Amman and other cities asking the government, among the others, to block trucks coming from the Gulf and destined for Israel.

Efforts to establish the land route have been underway since at least mid-2023 and have accelerated with Houthi drone and missile attacks. Several shipping companies are rerouting ships to the African continent, with a significant increase in time and costs, making the land route financially attractive.

Under the agreement, cargo ships from the Far East place their cargo on Jordanian trucks in Dubai or Bahrain, which travel through Saudi Arabia and Jordan and then transfer the goods onto Israeli vehicles for the final stretch from the border to the Israeli port of Haifa, in the Mediterranean.

Goods destined for Egypt can instead continue by road or ship towards the country of the pharaohs. Mentfield CEO Omer Izhari told the Times of Israel that “the land route saves about 20 days, so instead of 50-60 days, the goods arrive in 20-25 days from China to Israel” .

Barry Pintow, director of the Israel Federation of Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers, said the land bridge idea was “brilliant”; however, that its implementation is still problematic at a time of high tensions in the region.

“The idea – he explains – is to allow the arrival of a single truck and a driver from Dubai to the port of Haifa without having to change drivers and vehicles at the border crossings between the countries”.