The captain of an Iranian aid ship, which is being escorted by two Iranian warships to Yemen, said that he will dock in Djibouti and submit to a United Nations inspection, Reuters reported today. The decision delays a confrontation with Saudi Arabia, which is blockading Yemen.
Earlier in the day, the Iran Shahed’s captain had said the ship was due to enter the Bab al-Mandeb strait linking the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, bypassing Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and heading for the Yemeni port of Hodaida.
“We have decided to dock our ship in Djibouti so the United Nations inspection protocol can take place,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency….
Iran has said the ship is carrying humanitarian aid for Yemeni civilians. Hodaida’s port is under Houthi control.
The captain also said that Iran would send a plane to Djibouti tomorrow. Iran previously sent two aid planes directly to Yemen, but they were turned back by the Saudi Air Force.
Reuters added that it “was not clear whether Saudi forces would allow the Iran Shahed to dock in Yemen even after a U.N. inspection.” If Iran insists on sending the ship on to Yemen, it would still encounter the Saudi blockade.
The Iran Shahed is part of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008.
Last week, Iran threatened to “spark war” if any hostile action was taken against the ship.
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