Houthi political chief Saleh al-Samad warned that the rebels could “turn to strategic options… including cutting off the Red Sea and international navigation” unless a port and airport blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies were lifted.
“They pass through our waters in their ships while our people are dying of hunger,” Samad said in a statement published by the Houthis’ al-Masirah TV.
“But if they are ready to restart negotiations, we are ready as well.”
Samad made the comments during a meeting with the deputy UN envoy to Yemen Muin Shreim.
Along with the Yemeni capital and much of the northern highlands, the rebels continue to control a string of ports along Yemen’s Red Sea coastline despite the coalition’s superior firepower.
On Tuesday, UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash, whose country is a key member in the Saudi-led camp battling the Houthi rebels, tweeted that the rebels’ “open threat to international navigation in the Red Sea is documentation of their terrorist nature”.
The Saudi-led coalition joined the Yemeni government in its fight against the Houthis in March 2015, after the rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa. The coalition has warships positioned in the Red Sea.
In early November, the coalition tightened a pre-existing blockade on Yemeni ports and airports in response to a missile fired by the Houthis intercepted near Riyadh airport.
The blockade has massively reduced the amount of food and relief reaching the country, international aid organisations say.
It has been partially lifted under massive international pressure, namely over the closure of Hodeidah port – key to humanitarian and commercial deliveries.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition’s intervention in Yemen, according to UN figures, and has been described the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.