Yemen’s Houthis Keep Up Attacks on Ships

( – Houthi rebels in the Red Sea are continuing to attack ships despite airstrikes from the US and UK. The Yemeni group, backed by Iran and engaged in a civil war in its home country, has struck several Western vessels and, on February 19, attacked a bulk carrier, the Rubymar, with anti-ship ballistic missiles in the crucial Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a busy transit corridor. The attacks are retaliation for Western support of Israel in its war against Hamas and threaten to impact the global economy and drive prices upward.

The British-registered Rubymar was carrying grain from Argentina to Yemen when Houthis struck. The group insists the ship sank – though the UK denied this on February 20, claiming it was “taking on water” and had been abandoned by its crew. A Houthi spokesman also claimed to have attacked two US vessels, the Sea Champion and the Navis Fortuna, in the Gulf of Aden, and brought down a US MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Red Sea.

The attacks have prompted several major corporations – including BP and Shell – to postpone shipping or reroute vessels, adding thousands of miles to journeys. Experts are now warning of impending price rises and product shortages. Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export and International Trade, said, “The impact of the rerouting of shipping around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope due to attacks in the Suez Canal over the last month will be felt by consumers in the coming weeks.”

Investment expert Victoria Scholar agreed, saying there will likely be supply chain disruption that will send inflation skyward and prompt fresh “nervousness” about a conflict expansion across the Middle East, which will, in turn, increase the impact on inflation.

President Biden admitted in January that air strikes had not diminished the Houthi threat, while the Pentagon played down the prospects of American conflict with the group. Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said, “We do not seek war.”

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