The Houthi Leader’s Threats: Rising Tensions in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

2024-02-23 10:32:18

The Houthi leader threatens to use “unmanned submarines” and admits to attacking 48 ships

The leader of the Houthi group in Yemen, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, on Thursday threatened further escalation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, threatening Western ships with “unmanned submarines,” at a time when the preemptive American response continued by targeting the group’s sites in the coastal province of Hodeidah with at least four raids.

When the leader of the Iranian-backed group claimed, in a televised sermon, attacking 48 ships, in the fourth month of escalation, he minimized the impact of Western strikes and boasted of his group’s military capabilities, calling on his followers for more mobilization and recruitment.

The dynasty of the Houthi leader monopolizes all aspects of administration and governance in the areas under its control and is preparing to attack areas under the government (AFP)

In parallel with the Houthi sermon, British sources reported that a ship was targeted in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, and a fire broke out on board. The Houthi group did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack against the British-owned ship flying the Palau flag.

On Thursday, the Houthi group issued a statement in which it said that “ships owned wholly or partly by Israeli individuals or entities, and ships flying the flag of Israel, are prohibited from passing through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea.”

Data sent to shipping insurance companies from the Houthi Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center (a new center aimed at controlling the movement of ships) stated that ships owned by American or British individuals or entities, or sailing under the flags of the United States or Britain, are subject to The ban as well, according to what was reported by Reuters.

The group claims that its naval attacks are “in support of the Palestinians in Gaza,” and that they will not stop unless humanitarian aid enters, while the Yemeni government says that the group adopts Iran’s agenda and seeks naval escalation to escape the demands of the UN-led peace.

Al-Houthi said that the introduction of submarine weapons into his group’s operations at sea is “worrying to the enemy,” claiming that he targeted 48 ships and launched 183 missiles and drones towards Israel.

On Thursday, the Israeli army reported that sirens sounded and that it intercepted an air target that was heading towards Eilat, south of the occupied Palestinian territories, where the Houthi group was likely behind the attack.

The Houthi leader called on his followers to continue mobilizing more fighters and collecting donations (EPA)

Al-Houthi urged his followers to call for more recruitment, demonstrations, and activities in support of the escalation of his group, which he said had carried out 248 military parades and 566 military maneuvers, and recruited more than 237,000 personnel since the beginning of the Gaza events, claiming superiority over Washington and London in withholding information about passing ships. In the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The leader of the Iranian-backed group also claimed the inability of Western strikes to prevent or limit naval attacks, claiming that his group carried out “13 distinct and effective operations” this week, while its sites have received 278 raids since the start of the air strikes, according to him.

Attacks and counter strikes

In light of the continuing escalation for the fourth month in a row, the British Maritime Trade Operations Authority said on Thursday that a ship was attacked by two missiles 70 nautical miles southeast of the city of Aden, resulting in a fire on board.

For its part, the “Embry Maritime Security Company” reported that a cargo ship flying the Palau flag and owned by a British party was attacked by two missiles approximately 63 nautical miles to the southeast of Aden in Yemen.

The risk of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden increased in the fourth month of escalation, despite Western pre-emptive strikes and operations to confront missiles, drones, boats and small one-way submarines, which threatens the confrontation to enter another phase, especially with the entry of European forces on the line to contribute to protecting navigation. .

Since November 19, the Iranian-backed group has launched attacks against ships, amounting to (according to what Asharq Al-Awsat counted) about 43 attacks, which led to the injury of at least 11 ships, with talk of sinking one of them, under allegations of supporting the Palestinians. In Gaza and preventing navigation to and from Israeli ports, before adding Washington and London ships to its targets, in response to their strikes.

There are international fears of the collapse of Yemeni peace efforts as a result of this escalation, in addition to the risks of potential humanitarian repercussions resulting from the high cost of shipping and insurance, and the arrival of food to millions of Yemenis who live on aid.

In addition, the French General Staff announced, on Thursday, that the French Navy in the Red Sea destroyed, on the night of Wednesday-Thursday, two Houthi drones, in addition to two drones it had announced it had destroyed on the night of Monday-Tuesday.

On Thursday afternoon, the Houthi media admitted receiving 4 raids that it said were “American-British” targeting the Al-Jabbana area, west of the city of Hodeidah, amid continued military and espionage flights in the airspace.

In the context of responding to the Houthi attacks, US Central Command reported that its forces carried out, on February 21, between 12:00 am and 6:45 pm (Sanaa time), 4 self-defense strikes against 7 cruise missiles. A Houthi mobile anti-ship missile and a mobile anti-ship ballistic missile, indicating that drones were shot down for a unidirectional attack.

With the Houthis claiming to have sunk the ship “Ruby Mar”, the operating company reported, on Thursday, to “Agence France-Presse” that it was still floating in the waters of the Gulf of Aden after being targeted by two Houthi missiles, awaiting the possibility of towing it to Djibouti this week, without ruling out Possibility of sinking.

The cargo ship “Rubimar”, flying the Belizean flag, registered in Britain, managed by a Lebanese company and carrying combustible fertilizers, was damaged in a missile attack last Sunday, which was claimed by the Houthis.

The Houthis pirated the Galaxy Leader ship and detained its crew last November (AFP)

Washington responded to the Houthis’ escalation by forming an international coalition last December, which it called the “Guardian of Prosperity,” to protect navigation in the Red Sea, before launching, starting from January 12, strikes on the ground on about 22 occasions until Now, it included dozens of raids, of which London participated in 3 waves, in addition to dozens of operations to confront Houthi missiles and drones.

In light of the escalation of the Houthi threat, the Yemeni government asserts that Western strikes will not affect the Houthis’ abilities to attack ships in the Red Sea, and that the alternative solution is to support its forces to restore state institutions, liberate Hodeidah and its ports, force the group loyal to Tehran to peace, and end the coup against the national consensus.

This week, the European Union officially announced its approval of Operation “Protector,” whereby warships from the Union are preparing to participate in protecting navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden from Houthi attacks, without launching direct attacks on the ground.

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