The Houthi Rebels In Yemen Escalate Conflict To New Heights

Houthi Rebels Holding Palestinian Flag. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Houthi Rebels Holding Palestinian Flag. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
REUTERS

The armed militant group that controls large parts of Yemen continues to attack ships passing through controlled waters that are vital toward international trade since Oct. 19, 2023. The attacks have been met with equal force by a coalition of the United States, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom and more countries that conducted airstrikes on essential supply centers in Yemen. 

 

Although Iran has long denied arming the rebels, evidence provided by the British Navy to the United Nations suggests that Iran is in fact arming the Houthi Rebels with advanced military equipment. United States naval warships have shot down many different missiles aimed at themselves and commercial ships by Houthi militants in Yemen. Resistance in the Middle East is not new to the United States, where on Jan. 29, 2024, they launched retaliatory air strikes in Syria targeting key supply for other alleged Iranian-backed militias that killed three American soldiers in Jordan. The United States has sent several ships to the Gulf Of Aden to protect commercial shipping supplies that are vital toward the free flow of commerce that connects the logistics from Asia all the way to Europe and the rest of the world. 

 

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The retaliatory strikes by Houthi Rebels on cargo shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea were sparked by the Israel-Hamas War. In 2023, 22% of global seaborne container trade passed through the Suez Canal in the Red Sea alone. Using drones and missiles, the Houthi rebels and militias in Syria and Iraq have pressured global countries in attempts to end the war between Israel and Hamas. On Feb. 20, 2024, a ship from the United Kingdom which carried 40,000 tons of fertilizer was struck by the Houthis, creating an 18 mile oil spill which could potentially worsen  as an environmental disaster. 

 

Yemen has struggled for a stable government since the start of the Yemeni Civil War in 2014 when the Houthis overthrew the Yemen Army and took control of the capital Sanaa. Since then, there have been battles between multiple factions including Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, Southern Separatists, President Hadi Supporters, and President Saleh loyalists looking to take control over the country. These conflicts have led to a humanitarian crisis including famine and disease where 21.6 million people required some form of humanitarian assistance in 2023. 

 

Over the past four months, The attacks from the Houthi rebels on shipping routes have led to a dangerous escalation with nations around the world. Continued escalation and attacks may lead to strikes and military action on Yemeni soil. The lack of central government control has led to a complex problem for the world in combating the Houthi rebels when combined with their relentless attacks and strong support for violent actions.

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