By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission
The Government has expressed support for US and UK-led strikes in Yemen, targeting Houthi rebels who have wrecked havoc in the Red Sea over recent weeks.
Several container ships have been boarded by the Iran-backed group, slowing down global trade. It has also launched missile and drone strikes against warships stationed in the region.
The group claims its actions are in support of Palestine following the start of the war in Gaza on October 7.
Around 15% of global trade travels through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, and shipping companies – at risk of having their ships boarded – are now taking the long way around, making shipping times longer.
This morning, the US and UK’s navies launched a bombing campaign, targeting Houthi logistical hubs, air defence systems and weapons storage locations using tomahawk missiles and fighter jets.
In a statement, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters expressed support for the strikes.
“Today’s strikes support international security and trade, on which New Zealanders rely,” he said.
“We are a trading nation that relies on international maritime law and the free flow of goods, and Houthi actions strike at the heart of New Zealand’s national security.”
He called the Houthi attacks “illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilising”, and that they followed “clear warnings”.
“These warnings have not been heeded. The Houthis have only stepped up their attacks, as we saw on 10 January with the launch of further drones and missiles at commercial shipping vessels.
“Today’s response is the inevitable consequence of the Houthis’ disregard for international law, peace and stability.”
Defence Minister Judith Collins called the strikes a “good example of the international community uniting to address a serious threat to international security”.
“New Zealand will continue to stand with partners in upholding maritime security in the region.
“New Zealand defence forces have a long-standing role, in our exclusive economic zone and throughout the world, in supporting maritime security, including safe shipping lanes and the protection of civilian crews. Freedom of navigation is an integral part of New Zealand’s national security.”
New Zealand was part of a joint statement alongside Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States on today’s military action.
“These precision strikes were intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” part of the statement reads.
“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but let our message be clear: we will not hesitate to defend lives and protect the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”