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U.S. Launches More Strikes on Yemen’s Houthis as Red Sea Attacks Continue

In Uncategorized, World
January 18, 2024

The U.S. launched another round of strikes at 14 Houthi targets in Yemen overnight as the militant group’s attacks on shipping in the Red Sea continue.

U.S. Central Command said its forces targeted Houthi missiles just before midnight that were ready to launch and that presented “an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how extensive the damage was or whether there were casualties in the latest American response to repeated Houthi attacks against commercial shipping. The Houthis’ sporadic strikes via missiles and drones have disrupted global trade, forcing most vessels to avoid the waterway.

Read More: History Suggests U.S. Airstrikes Against the Houthis Will Backfire

The U.S. move came hours after the American-owned Genco Picardy was attacked by a drone in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday. Centcom earlier described the vessel as a bulk carrier ship registered in the Marshall Islands. The ship sustained some damage, but no injuries were reported and the vessel remained seaworthy.

It was the third ship targeted by the militants since a major round of U.S. and U.K.-led attacks on Jan. 12 that included more than 150 precision munitions, including over 80 Tomahawk missiles and allied fighter aircraft.

Those strikes were intended to weaken the Iran-backed group’s ability to disrupt commercial shipping. But if the latest attacks are any indication, the Houthis still have sufficient weaponry at their disposal to harass vessels in the Red Sea, something that may prompt President Joe Biden to expand the military campaign against them.

Read More: How Biden Can Stop Houthi Missile Attacks—Without Risking War

That in turn could heighten fears of the conflict in the Middle East — which began when Hamas sent militants into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people — expanding even more. Israel has said it won’t let up its campaign in the Gaza Strip, despite widespread fears of a humanitarian disaster. The Houthis have cited Israel’s actions in Gaza as the motive for their attacks.

On Monday, the Transportation Department warned U.S. merchant ships to avoid the Red Sea until further notice. Since late last week, the U.S. Navy and a key trade body have been advising merchant ships that security in the southern Red Sea remains unstable and that it is advisable to avoid the area.

Earlier Wednesday, U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron met Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, warning him that the Houthi attacks are “illegal and unacceptable, and that Iran must use its influence with the Houthis to prevent further threats,” according to a foreign office spokesperson. Iran has rejected accusations it has played a role in the shipping attacks.

The result of the continued shipping attacks has been an ever-sprawling rupture in global shipping. Much of the world’s container fleet is sailing thousands of miles around Africa, rather than taking Red Sea routes. 

Read More: How—and Why—Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Are Poised to Seriously Disrupt the Global Economy

In recent days, other types of ships, such as oil tankers, have also reduced the number of journeys they’re making through the region. A growing number are also taking the unusual step of flagging their lack of link to Israel, in a bid to gain safe passage through the waterway.

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