Expert: Houthi rebels released cargo ship seizure video for political propaganda

An expert from Japan's Defense Ministry's think tank says that the recent video released by Houthi rebels in Yemen, purportedly showing their fighters hijacking a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Sunday, is political propaganda.

A researcher for the National Institute of Defense Studies, Yoshida Tomoaki, analyzed the video posted on social media on Monday.

Yoshida pointed out that the helicopter displayed the Yemen flag, which indicates the Houthis had intended to release the video to show their solidarity with the Palestinians.

Regarding the capabilities of Houthi fighters, he said they appear well-trained and have definitely received training by Iran. He added that Iran has intensified its military training for the rebels since 2015, leading to the creation of a specialized unit in that process.

As for the reasons behind the escalation of Houthi military activities in the Red Sea, Yoshida said the militants' missile and other aerial attacks on Israel are highly likely to be shot down. He explained that operations in the Red Sea would serve as a more offensive option, presenting the potential to inflict tangible damage.

Concerning the Houthis' escalation of threats to Israel, Yoshida suggested that while the Houthi militants publicly demonstrate their solidarity with Palestinians and call for Israel to stop its invasion of Gaza, they have doubts about the feasibility of this demand. He said that in reality, they want to increase their political influence in Yemen and assert their legitimacy.

Regarding the 25 crew members of the seized ship, Yoshida suggested the United Nations will negotiate for their release, as has been done before. He said he doesn't know how long the negotiations will take -- it could be an immediate release, or may take around three months, given past cases.

Discussing the possible influence of the Houthi rebels on the international community, Yoshida said the threat in the waters has been changing. He pointed out that in the past, the world had faced less intensive threats, such as the Somali pirates in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. He said the emergence of the Houthi rebels, equipped with state-level armaments including anti-ship missiles, poses a new threat in these areas, which is a significant concern for global society.