The Iranian-backed Houthis have increased their threats to shipping in the Red Sea. This has become a daily affair, whereas during the first two months of the war, the threats occurred with less regularity.

This means that during the past two weeks, since the pause in fighting ended in Gaza on December 1, there has been an unprecedented escalation by the Houthis. The group openly says it is attempting to blockade Israel.

Whether it can accomplish that threat is unclear, but its constant harassment of shipping illustrates that it wants to demonstrate that it is trying.

Recent Houthi attacks

On Wednesday, the Houthis launched missiles at a cargo ship that was carrying fuel, a potentially devastating incident.

In addition, The National, an English-language daily newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates, reported: “A Houthi drone was shot down by a US warship… The Ardmore Encounter suffered no damage during the attempted attack, and was reportedly carrying its cargo to Rotterdam from the Indian port of Mangalore.”

The report said 10% of global oil is transported via the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, where the Houthis are actively targeting ships.

“Also on Wednesday morning, gunmen in a speedboat approached two vessels in the Strait, the British maritime security agency Ambrey said,” The National reported.

In addition, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations group reported several incidents at sea near Yemen.

One involved small boats harassing a ship 50 nautical miles from Hodeidah. Armed security on the ship fired warning shots.

In addition, small boats harassed a ship 90 nautical miles off of Al-Duqm, Oman. This is about 500 miles from Yemen, meaning the boats, if they came from Yemen, had gone a long way.
Attacks in the past two weeks

It is worth examining all the incidents involving Houthi attacks over the past two weeks. On December 3, there were four attacks against three commercial ships. The USS Carney responded to distress calls from the ships. The ships included the Bahamas-flagged Unity Explorer, a bulk cargo ship that was targeted by a missile.

A drone also targeted the USS Carney. Another ship, the Number 9, was also struck by a missile. The Sophie II, a third ship, was also struck by a missile.

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security,” US Central Command said in a statement. “They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world. We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran. The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”

On December 6, the Houthis fired a missile at Eilat. In addition, there were reports of a drone harassing a ship near Hodeidah. The USS Mason then shot down a drone. On December 9, the Houthis released a statement threatening all ships bound for Israel.

On December 10, the French warship Languedoc downed two Houthi drones. On December 11, the Strinda was attacked by an anti-ship missile launched by the Houthis. The USS Mason responded to the ship’s Mayday call.

The frequency of these attacks indicates a clear and present danger to shipping. Shipping costs, insurance, and other issues are being affected.

So far, the Houthis feel they have the impunity to continue the attacks.

Source » jpost