Undeterred By US, Its Allies, Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Continue Attacks In Red Sea, Affecting Global Shipping

Undeterred By US, Its Allies, Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Continue Attacks In Red Sea, Affecting Global Shipping

Last Updated: February 25, 2024, 16:03 IST

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The M/V Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, UK-owned bulk carrier leaks oil in the Gulf of Aden after taking significant damage after an attack by Iran-backed Houthi terrorists on February 18, which caused an 18-mile oil slick. (Image: AFP)

The M/V Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, UK-owned bulk carrier leaks oil in the Gulf of Aden after taking significant damage after an attack by Iran-backed Houthi terrorists on February 18, which caused an 18-mile oil slick. (Image: AFP)

Yemen’s Houthis target US-flagged oil tanker in Gulf of Aden amid tensions over Gaza conflict. USS Mason intercepts missile. No damage reported

Defying counterattacks by the United States and its allies, Yemen’s Houthi rebels continue to target global shipping in crucial sea lanes. Recent strikes on commercial vessels, including the MV Torm Thor and the Rubymar, heighten concerns of an environmental disaster and disruptions to global trade routes.

The US and its allies have launched multiple strikes on Houthi targets and redesignated the militia as a terrorist outfit. The latest response came on Saturday when American and British forces carried out a fresh wave of strikes Saturday against 18 targets in Yemen, following weeks of unrelenting attacks on Red Sea shipping. The strikes “specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen” including weapons storage facilities, attack drones, air defense systems, radars and a helicopter.

U.S. Forces, Allies Conduct Joint Strikes in YemenOn Feb. 24, at approximately 11:50 p.m. (Sanaa Yemen time), U.S. Central Command forces alongside UK Armed Forces, and with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, conducted strikes… pic.twitter.com/hAQ8Ftkihp

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 24, 2024

Read MoreUS, UK Forces Again Target Houthis in Yemen in Response to Red Sea Attacks

Over 45 Attacks

Released on Saturday, the statement joint statement was co-signed by Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, who gave unspecified “support” to the new round of strikes, the second this month and fourth since the rebels began their attacks on ships in the region. “The Houthis’ now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response,” the statement said.

On Sunday, Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said Houthis targeted US-flagged MV Torm Thor owned and operated oil tanker, in the Gulf of Aden. These attacks came as the militants continued to attack shipping lanes in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The group targeted the tanker with “a number of appropriate naval missiles,” Sarea added in a televised speech. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer, on Saturday shot down one anti-ship ballistic missile launched into the Gulf of Aden from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen that was likely targeting the tanker.

Feb. 24 Red Sea UpdateOn Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. (Sanaa time), USS Mason (DDG 87) shot down one Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) launched into the Gulf of Aden from Iranian-backed Houthi controlled areas of Yemen. The missile was likely targeting MV Torm Thor, a U.S.-Flagged,… pic.twitter.com/9Bm80Y6qKK

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 24, 2024

Environmental disaster

The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have launched exploding drones and missiles at commercial vessels since November 19 as a protest against Israel’s military operations in Gaza. On Friday, a cargo ship was abandoned in the Gulf of Aden after an attack left a huge oil slick, in an environmental disaster that could worsen. Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, British-registered and Lebanese-operated cargo ship carrying combustible fertilizer, was damaged in a missile strike claimed by Houthis.

Read More Attack By Houthis on Cargo Ship Leaves 29 Km-Long Oil Slick, US Warns of Environmental Disaster

Its crew was evacuated to Djibouti after one missile hit the side of the ship, causing water to enter the engine room and its stern to sag, said its operator, the Blue Fleet Group. CENTCOM said the ship is anchored but slowly taking on water and has left an 18-mile oil slick. The ship’s operator said Thursday the ship could be towed to Djibouti this week. Khoury said the ship was still afloat and shared an image captured on Wednesday that showed its stern low in the water. When asked about the possibility of it sinking, Khoury had said there was “no risk for now, but always a possibility.”

The attack on the Rubymar represents the most significant damage yet to be inflicted on a commercial ship since the Houthis started firing on vessels in November. The turmoil from Israel’s war with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has spilled over to some extent into other parts of the Middle East. Apart from the Houthi attacks on vital shipping lanes, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group has traded fire with Israel along the Israel-Lebanon border and pro-Iran Iraqi militia have attacked bases that host U.S. forces.

The oil tanker industry’s longstanding concerns about insufficient ship construction are resurfacing as Houthi attacks on commercial shipping lead to widespread diversions in global petroleum trades, according to Bloomberg. With only two new supertankers set to join the fleet in 2024, the lowest in almost four decades, concerns about capacity shortages are growing. Owners, increasingly avoiding the southern Red Sea. The report said that this increased avoidance is prolonging trade routes, already stretched due to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

(With agency inputs)

Rohit

Rohit is sub-editor at News18.com and covers international news. He previously worked with Asian News International (ANI). He is interested in world a

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