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Why Are UK and US Attacking Houthis in Red Sea?



In recent weeks, the United Kingdom and the United States have launched military strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, responding to a series of attacks on Red Sea shipping. The conflict escalated as the Houthis targeted both commercial and military vessels, prompting a forceful response from the US and the UK.

 

The trigger for the US-UK military intervention was the Houthi rebels' largest attack on Red Sea shipping, marking the 27th assault since November 19. In a bold move, the rebels launched 21 missiles and drones at warships and commercial vessels near the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a strategic southern bottleneck of the Red Sea.

 

In response, the US and the UK executed military strikes involving aircraft, ships, and missiles. The US targeted more than 60 locations at 28 Houthi sites, hitting radar systems, drone and missile storage, launch sites, and command centers. The UK focused on key facilities involved in Houthi targeting of HMS Diamond and US Navy vessels, conducting precision strikes on Houthi facilities in Bani and Abbs.

 

Following the US-UK strikes, the Houthis vowed to expand their Red Sea raids to include American ships. In a demonstration of their capabilities, the rebels successfully struck an American-owned cargo vessel off Yemen. The Houthis declared British and American ships as legitimate targets, continuing their assaults on Red Sea shipping.

 

The US and the UK received non-operational support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands. The US Navy utilized Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, while the UK deployed four RAF Typhoons carrying Paveway IV guided bombs. The international coalition aims to reduce the Houthi capability to violate international law in the Red Sea.

 

The Red Sea is a vital waterway for global trade, with approximately 12 to 15 percent of shipping traffic passing through. The Houthi attacks have forced shipping companies to reroute vessels, causing delays and increased insurance costs. The strikes have led to temporary halts in shipping by major oil companies, raising concerns about the potential long-term consequences on energy prices and global supply chains.

 

The Houthis' focus on international merchant shipping has raised concerns about further escalation. While the UK and the US aim to keep the shipping lane open, there are challenges in balancing this objective with the risk of spreading war in the region.

 

As global powers respond to the escalating threats to shipping, the situation underscores the challenges of maintaining maritime security and stability in a geopolitically sensitive area. The consequences of these actions on global trade and regional tensions remain critical factors to watch in the evolving scenario.

 

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