UK and US Forces Successfully Repel Largest Houthi Attack on Red Sea Shipping, Potential Military Action Looms

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have launched their largest attack yet on shipping in the Red Sea, but were repelled by UK and US naval forces, according to UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps. The attack involved 21 drones and missiles, all of which were shot down by carrier-based jets and warships. The Houthis claimed that they targeted a US ship in retaliation for the killing of rebels who attempted to attack a container ship last month. Shapps stated that he has no doubt that Iran played a significant role in these attacks.

The Houthis have been behind 26 attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea since November 19, as reported by the US military. They often claim that their targets are ships linked to Israel in protest against Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip. The US military stated that the attacks involved Iranian-designed attack drones and missiles launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen. In response, F/A-18 warplanes and destroyers from the USS Dwight D Eisenhower aircraft carrier, along with the HMS Diamond, shot down the majority of the drones and missiles.

Shapps warned of future consequences if these attacks continue, stating that the UK and its allies have made it clear that such illegal attacks are unacceptable. He emphasized that action will be taken to protect innocent lives and the global economy. Given the threat to the freedom of navigation and the critical Red Sea shipping route, a joint statement was issued by several countries including the UK, US, Australia, and Japan. Almost 15% of global seaborne trade passes through the Red Sea, and concerns are growing that fuel prices may rise and supply chains could be disrupted.

The Houthis claim to be targeting Israeli-owned or Israel-bound vessels in support of Hamas, an Iran-backed Palestinian group. The rebels began as a movement advocating for Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority, later taking control of the capital and large parts of western Yemen. This prompted a Saudi-led coalition intervention in support of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. The ongoing war has caused immense devastation, with over 150,000 deaths and 21 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

There are increasing worries that the situation in the Red Sea is unsustainable both economically and militarily. The cost of defending against Houthi drone attacks, using expensive missiles such as the Royal Navy’s Sea Viper, is becoming financially burdensome. It is believed that the Houthis receive intelligence from an Iranian surveillance ship in the Red Sea, further complicating the situation. As tensions escalate, it is possible that direct military action against the Houthis may be imminent.

In conclusion, the UK and US naval forces successfully repelled the largest attack to date by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. The Houthis have targeted commercial shipping in retaliation for alleged Israeli actions in Gaza. There are concerns about the economic and military sustainability of the current situation, and it is believed that Iran plays a significant role in supporting these attacks. The international community has issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of protecting freedom of navigation. With global trade and supply chains at stake, the consequences of continued attacks could be severe.