Houthi Attacks on Global Shipping Lead to US Intervention

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By Kamden Tackett

In October 2023, an Iranian backed movement known as the Houthis launched missiles and armed drone strikes at Israel in response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. In November of the same year, they hijacked a cargo ship. These attacks would mark the first of many such attacks which would lead to a worldwide meltdown in the supply chain and shipping lanes, a geopolitical powder keg on the verge of eruption, cargo ships being bombed and sunk, and United States Aircraft Carrier supposedly being attacked for the first time in 24 years.  

Who are the Houthis? The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), are a militant rebel organization based in Yemen who are fighting for the minority Shia Muslim population, against the Sunni-majority government. In 2014 the Houthis took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and by 2016 they had control over a majority of north Yemen. The movement is funded and supported by the Iranian government, according to the Wilson Center, “Iranian officials have supported the Houthis’ cause and compared the group to Hezbollah (another Shia militant group). “Iran supports the rightful struggles of Ansarullah in Yemen and considers this movement as part of the successful Islamic Awakening movements,”  

Why does it matter? The movement is currently attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea, a major global choke point for shipping to and from Europe, China, India, and Australia, which allows ships to bypass traveling around the tip of Africa. So far, the Houthis have attacked more than 40 ships in the Red Sea. According to the BBC One case, “the Rubymar, a cargo ship which was hit in February, later sank. On the 6th of March, three crew members were killed in a missile attack on the Barbados-flagged cargo ship True Confidence.” Luckily many of these such attacks of been stopped by American military equipment. Originally the Houthis claimed to only be attacking Israeli ships, but many of the ships attacked have little to no connections with Israel. Due to the attacks many ships have had to change their course, or risk being attacked by the Houthis. Any ship traveling through the Red Sea’s insurance rates have skyrocketed, which means shipping costs and delivery costs have as well. Any major provider of goods that does international trading is feeling massive ramifications from this, and prices are rising because of it. The consequences though, have not only been the loss of life or profit margin. One ship sunk was carrying multiple tons of fertilizer that is now leaking into the ocean presumably wreaking havoc on any wildlife present.  

Due to the chaos being sown in the Red Sea, the US and UK have begun airstrikes on Houthi outposts, which the Houthis have responded to by calling it inhumane and stepping up their attacks and ferocity. In this increased aggression the Houthis apparently attacked a US Naval ship, although America denies these claims. If the claims are true, the attack would be the first on an American vessel since the year 2000. The 2000 attack coming because of a Shia terrorist organization… in Yemen. Time is a flat circle. 

Just to make sure we are on the same page here before I move into some of the more consequential recent developments. – Hamas and Israel are at war, the Iranian backed Yemen based Houthis are attacking Israel, the US, the UK, and Global Shipping, and the US, Israel and UK are attacking Houthi bases in Yemen. This is simply scratching the surface of the Geopolitical web being woven in the middle east. However, I needed to make sure you were caught up because of a recent development. 

Why have I brought up the fact that Iran is backing the Houthi rebels so much? Well, two reasons, 

  1. I have been paying attention to the politics of the middle east. 

And because of that 

  1. I had a feeling these two states would become more aggressive with each other. 

Which brings me to the revelation that within the time of me starting this story to now, Israel dropped missiles on the Iranian embassy in Syria which killed two Iranian generals. They said the embassy was just being used as a military headquarters for Iranian generals and therefore, decided to bomb the place. In retaliation to this surprise not really surprise attack, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group which I mentioned earlier, sent more than 300 projectiles – including around 170 drones and over 120 ballistic missiles toward Israel. Unfortunately, the details of this development are outside the scope of what this story is supposed to be about, the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. I will be writing a follow up story for those developments though so stay tuned. We might be watching a much bigger war begin to unfold. 

The Houthi attacks, which were veiled as a Shia group acting in solidarity with its oppressed kin, turned out to be an attack on not only Israel, but worldwide shipping. Due in part to the Houthi attacks over 40 ships have been sunk, a US naval vessel was attacked for the first time in 24 years, Israel and Iran are at war, and the local powers in the middle east, as well as the Global superpowers, are all eyeing each other with bated breath, waiting for the next move.

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