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May 23, 2024

Houthis Claim Fresh Attacks on Ships After US and UK Strikes

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Feb 6, 2024

The Houthi rebel group in Yemen has claimed new attacks targeting ships in the Red Sea belonging to the US and UK militaries. This comes after several days of escalating strikes by the US, UK and Houthis in response to perceived threats and aggressions.

Background

Tensions have been simmering for years between Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and the US and its allies. The Houthis have been fighting the internationally recognized government in Yemen supported by Saudi Arabia. The US sees the Houthis as an extension of Iranian influence in the region.

Several incidents over the past week have sparked an exchange of retaliatory strikes. Last Monday, two cargo ships owned by Israeli companies were attacked by drones in the Gulf of Oman which the US blamed on Iran supplying weapons to the Houthis. The US carried out retaliatory strikes on Tuesday against Iranian-supplied radar and missile batteries in southern Yemen.

On Thursday, a Houthi missile attack targeted the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, killing 3 foreign workers. This prompted further US airstrikes destroying Houthi weapons storage and logistics facilities. On Saturday, the Houthis launched additional missile and drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia and vessels in the Red Sea. The US and UK responded with more coordinated airstrikes on Sunday destroying Houthi launch sites, air defense systems and drones.

Latest Attacks

Early Monday, another ship was targeted in the southern Red Sea, according to news reports. The Ambrey, a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker owned by a Ukrainian company, suffered minor damage from an explosion while transiting off Yemen’s coast. No injuries were reported among the crew.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree claimed responsibility, saying two naval mines were used in “an attack deep in the waters of the Red Sea.” He warned the mines would pose an ongoing threat to enemy warships and oil tankers. An earlier purported video showed a naval mine being launched towards an unidentified ship, though this has not been independently verified.

This follows claims by the Houthis on Sunday that they had mobilized suicide drone and missile attacks targeting vessels belonging to the US and UK near the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. While there has been no confirmation of additional strikes, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) – a US-led naval partnership – acknowledged expending 4,000 rounds from an onboard Phalanx gun system to intercept an incoming drone.

Date Reported Attacks
Feb 4 Houthis say they targeted UAE-leased ship
Feb 5 Ambrey damaged by naval mine explosion
Feb 5 CMF Phalanx system shoots down Houthi drone
Feb 6 Houthis claim suicide drones/missiles targeting US, UK ships

A spokesperson for CMF said they remained “vigilant against threats…and are fully prepared to defend themselves and their partners from anyone foolish enough to test our resolve.”

The UK ambassador to Yemen also condemned the “reckless Houthi attacks” endangering shipping lanes, while reaffirming their “right to defend ourselves.”

International Response

The recent strikes have elicited warnings from several international leaders about risks of further escalation.

New escalations “will only fuel more chaos and disorder,” the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said, accusing the US and UK of disregarding Yemen’s sovereignty.

The UN Special Envoy urged all sides to “immediately de-escalate” and seize the momentum to work towards reviving the stalled peace process. The envoy had recently held consultations with Houthi representatives before heading to Saudi Arabia to discuss prospects for a nationwide ceasefire.

In a tweet following Sunday’s strikes ex-UK prime minister David Cameron said while self defense was understandable, “continued force risks entrenching lines of conflict” and impairing diplomatic solutions.

Russian officials also chimed in about risks that unchecked Western military ventures could further destabilize the region. However, some analysts believe Russia’s disapproval is motivated more by desire to curb Western influence than humanitarian concerns.

What’s Next?

With neither side appearing willing to back down, some experts anticipate continued reprisals and counter-reprisals in the near term. The US seems intent on reining in Iran’s regional ambitions and protecting strategic shipping corridors. Meanwhile the Houthis remain defiant – buoyed by Iranian rockets and missiles they may seek to expand attacks on Saudi infrastructure or vessels traversing the Red Sea.

Much depends on Iran’s ultimate strategy. They could continue supplying Houthis from afar to bog down rivals and assert leverage. Or, feeling the pinch of sanctions, Iran may lean on proxies to de-escalate while turning attention to reviving the nuclear deal.

There are hopes fresh US-Houthi talks in Oman or full ceasefire negotiations could offer a path out of the violence. But compromise has proven elusive with positions hardening on all sides. Unless underlying conflicts are resolved, flare-ups seem inevitable as Yemen’s civil war rages on.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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