In recent weeks, the Red Sea has become a focal point of conflict due to the alarming surge in attacks on ships by the Houthi rebels, an Iranian-backed group based in Yemen.
As tensions escalate, it’s crucial to understand who the Houthis are, their motivations, and the impact of their actions on global trade.
Who Are the Houthis?
The Houthi rebels, led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, have been at the forefront of Yemen’s political turmoil for nearly two decades. Backed by Iran, they control the country’s northwest, including the capital, Sana. Ideologically aligned with the “axis of resistance,” alongside Hamas and Hezbollah, the Houthis oppose Israel and the United States.
Why Are They Attacking Ships in the Red Sea?
With the onset of the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the Houthis declared support for Hamas and initiated a series of attacks on ships passing through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Their primary motivation is to protest the situation in Gaza, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Since November, they have launched numerous attacks targeting vessels traveling to or from Israeli ports.
Global Impact of Houthi Attacks
The repercussions of Houthi attacks are reverberating globally, affecting over 40 countries, including major container companies like MSC and Maersk. The disruption in the Red Sea could potentially lead to increased costs for everyday goods and impact supply chains. Shipping companies are left with challenging decisions, such as rerouting vessels around Africa, incurring additional costs and time, or risking higher insurance premiums if continuing to use the Red Sea.
U.S. Response to Houthi Attacks
The United States, along with allies like Britain, has taken a firm stance against Houthi aggression. Operation Prosperity Guardian, a naval task force, has been deployed to patrol the Red Sea, aiming to preserve freedom of navigation and shipping.
U.S. and British warships have intercepted Houthi missiles and drones, showcasing a concerted effort to curb the rebels’ maritime attacks.
As the world watches the unfolding events in the Red Sea, the U.S. continues its efforts to safeguard international shipping routes and counter the Houthi threat.