The Rise of Iranian-backed Houthis: A New Wave of Attacks Unfolds

The Iran-backed Houthis continued to escalate their attacks on February 19 with a new attack on a ship off the coast of Yemen. The Houthis claimed they struck the ship Rubymar off the coast. According to reports, a ship was attacked in the Bab al-Mandeb strait. The incident occurred around 35 nautical miles from the coast. The UK Maritime Trade Operations agency reported the crew had abandoned a ship off Yemen after an explosion. Arab News noted that the attack on the ship came as the US military acknowledged conducting new airstrikes targeting the militia. This is the latest escalation by the Houthis, which have proven they are not going to stop attacking ships, despite the US and other countries acting to strike their capabilities. The decision by the Houthis to use unmanned “underwater vessels” presents a new danger. The group has already used ballistic missiles and small watercraft as well as helicopters in its attacks on ships. However, there are questions about whether the Houthis can and will be deterred. Even a few attacks a month are apparently enough to deter some shipping companies from using the important shipping lane via the Red Sea.