In a significant escalation, the US Strikes Houthi Targets in Yemen. The missile strike was launched with some allies like Britian. The move follows the Yemeni rebel group’s relentless attacks on commercial ships navigating the Red Sea, a vital trade route handling 12 percent of global commerce.
Who Are the Houthis?
The Houthi rebels, led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, are Shiite militants backed by Iran. Their two-decade-long armed struggle against Yemen’s government has gained them control over the country’s northwest, including the capital, Sana. Aligned with the “axis of resistance,” alongside Hamas and Hezbollah, the Houthis oppose Israel and the United States. Supported by Iran, their arsenal has grown to include cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and long-range drones.
Red Sea Attacks and Ties with Hamas
The recent surge in Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea coincides with the Israel-Hamas conflict. Expressing support for Hamas, the Houthis vowed to target any vessels heading to or leaving Israel. Their spokesperson, Yahya Sarea, cited solidarity with Palestinians as the motive behind the attacks, condemning the “killing, destruction, and siege” in Gaza.
Global Impact of Houthi Attacks
The Houthi assaults have affected ships from over 40 countries, causing concerns about disrupted supply chains and increased costs for everyday goods. Major container companies, MSC and Maersk, are avoiding the region, leaving shipping companies with challenging decisions. Rerouting vessels around Africa adds significant time and cost, while using the Red Sea raises insurance premiums, impacting the fragile global economy.
U.S. Response and Naval Task Force
The Biden administration condemned the Houthi attacks and formed Operation Prosperity Guardian, a naval task force with the participation of the United States, Britain, and other allies. This task force aims to preserve freedom of navigation and shipping in the Red Sea. Despite the region’s dependency on Red Sea trade, only Bahrain agreed to join the effort. U.S. and British warships have intercepted Houthi missiles and drones, with recent successes in preventing attacks.
The U.S. and its allies are actively working to counter the Houthi threat, protecting vital maritime routes and addressing the broader geopolitical implications of this conflict.