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Houthis Target UK Merchant Ship in Red Sea as US-Led Op to Contain Militia Leaks Like a Sieve

The Yemeni militia kicked off an operation to hijack and strike suspected Israeli-affiliated commercial vessels sailing through the Red Sea in November over Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. The US responded by assembling a “coalition of the willing” in December, which almost immediately fell apart as major allies pulled out.Yemen’s Houthi militia has reported a fresh attack against a British merchant ship allegedly heading toward Israel.“

The naval forces in the Yemeni Armed Forces targeted a British commercial ship in the Red Sea that was headed to the ports of occupied Palestine with appropriate naval missiles,” the militia said in a statement released late Thursday.

A F/A-18E Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron 87 lands on the flight deck of the USS Gerald Ford in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the US on October 6, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.01.2024

The Houthis indicated that the strike was part of its ongoing campaign of solidarity with Gaza, as well as “part of the response to the American-British aggression against our country.” The militia promised that its Red Sea attacks on suspected Israeli-affiliated shipping would continue “until the cessation of [Israeli] aggression and the lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip.”No further information about the attack or the vessel targeted was provided.Separately on Thursday, Houthi Yemeni Supreme Political Council member Mohammad Ali al-Houthi brushed off claims by Washington and London that the militia’s anti-shipping campaign was endangering maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 The Wake Island Avengers  and the United Kingdom's Lightning 617 Squadron shortly after embarking onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth on 22 September, 2020, off the coast of the United Kingdom. - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.01.2024

“passage of 4,874 ships through the Red Sea without any objection confirms that American and British claims are false,” al-Houthi said. “The US’s problems stem from its desire to maintain hegemony over the region,” he added.A day earlier, al-Houthi warned that US “endeavors of folly” against Yemen would fail and that the Houthis “will not be deterred” from continuing their Red Sea operations in support of Gaza until Israel ends its campaign in the besieged Palestinian enclave.YesterdayThe Houthis also indicated this week that they had trained over 165,000 reservists as part of a mobilization campaign aimed at deterring further Western aggression.

Military training and skill improvement activities as part of mobilization are very important and will be expanded and extended to multiple regions of Yemen,” Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said Thursday, adding that the Houthi people’s army is combat-ready and experienced in military operations.

Houthi Blockade Hits Western Economies

The Houthis, officially Ansar Allah (lit. “Supporters of God”), began a series of targeted commercial ship hijackings and attacks using missiles and drones in November 2023, seizing or firing on dozens of mostly Israeli-owned or bound vessels.

In December, the US organized a Red Sea “coalition of the willing” known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, with the UK, Denmark, and Greece promising to send warships, but other allies, including the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, and Canada committing only handful of shipless seamen, and major NATO naval powers France, Italy, and Spain pulling out entirely in favor of an EU-led Red Sea coalition expected to be formed later this month.

In January, after the US and UK began a series of air and cruise missile strikes inside Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, the militia retaliated with attempts to strike US-led coalition warships operating in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. On Tuesday, a Houthi missile targeting the USS Gravely destroyer reportedly came within less than two kilometers of the vessel before being intercepted by a close-in weapon system (CIWS), one of the warship’s last lines of defense.

This photo released by the Houthi Media Center shows a Houthi helicopter approaching the cargo ship Galaxy Leader on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.02.2024

The same day, the USS Carney destroyer reported shooting down a Houthi missile and three “Iranian drones” over the Gulf of Aden (Iran has officially denied any direct involvement in the crisis).CENTCOM, the US combatant command responsible for operations in the Middle East, reported Thursday that American forces had shot down a Houthi drone and an explosive unscrewed surface vehicle in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, respectively.31 January, 05:49 GMT

US-led operations in the Red Sea to counter the Houthi blockade and attacks inside Yemen have failed to stop the militia’s operations. Since January 12, when US and British strikes inside Yemen began, the Houthis have targeted at least a dozen commercial and military vessels in the region.The Houthi blockade has had a dramatic impact on Western economies, with nearly half-a-dozen shipping majors, including Maersk, CMA CGM, and Hapag-Lloyd, halting all operations through the Red Sea, and Israel’s Eilat Port suffering an 85 percent drop in activity thanks to the militia’s campaign.

Egypt’s Suez Canal has seen a multibillion dollar drop in transit revenues, while Qatar, a key supplier of liquefied natural gas to Europe, has suspended exports amid the crisis, pilling on to EU losses stemming from BP and Shell’s suspension of energy shipments through the strategic body of water. Western consumers are expected to suffer the brunt of the blockade’s impact, facing threats ranging from a spike in inflation and higher fuel costs to higher prices for imported goods as companies still operating in the Red Sea stock up on insurance, while others are forced to take the long way around Africa from Asia to Europe and back, adding millions in fuel costs and weeks-worth of time to their journeys.

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