New Delhi, Feb 4: In the ongoing efforts to counter Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, the United States and the United Kingdom have executed a third round of joint strikes, targeting 36 Houthi sites across 13 locations in Yemen. The coordinated military action, supported by other nations, is a response to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels’ persistent assaults on cargo vessels, disrupting global supply chains and prompting shipping companies to alter routes.
This latest development follows previous joint strikes against the Houthi rebels, who began their attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea in November, claiming to target Israeli-affiliated vessels in solidarity with the Palestinians. However, it has been noted that many of the targeted ships have no connection to Israel.
The UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, emphasized the necessity for Houthi attacks on international shipping to cease, stating that their actions endanger innocent lives, threaten navigation freedom, and destabilise the region. The Houthi rebels, allegedly supported by Iran, have defied repeated warnings to cease their aggressive actions.
UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps clarified that the recent strikes were not an escalation but deemed the Houthi attacks on Red Sea vessels as “illegal and unacceptable.” The disruptions have led shipping companies to avoid the Red Sea, which typically handles nearly 15% of global seaborne trade, opting for a longer route around southern Africa instead.
In a separate incident, US Central Command reported the destruction of an anti-ship missile in Yemen, stating it was in self-defence against an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region. Despite the strikes, the Houthis have vowed to respond, asserting their moral, religious, and humanitarian stance in support of Palestinians.
The ongoing conflict has significant economic implications, with an estimated 15% of global trade passing through the Red Sea annually, valued at over $1 trillion. The situation remains complex, with Washington and London aiming to halt Houthi attacks that have disrupted supply chains, while both Iran and the US express a desire to avoid further escalation.