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Houthi attacks on ships in Red Sea likely to continue despite U.S. measures

Houthi attacks on ships in Red Sea likely to continue despite U.S. measures Houthis threaten to continue attacks in the Red Sea (photo: wikimedia)

Yemeni Houthis have vowed to continue attacking ships in the Red Sea, despite the U.S. decision to create an international naval task force to protect maritime trade on one of the world's most important waterways, states Bloomberg.

The Iranian-backed Houthi group has also warned Washington that it is ready to retaliate if the United States attacks their military bases.

"If the United States attacks Yemen, we will target it by firing missile and drones at US battleships and other vessels," said Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

The United States has announced that it is working with Western and Arab allies to strengthen maritime defense forces designed to ensure the safety of ships sailing in the Red Sea, which accounts for nearly 12% of world trade.

According to the Swiss logistics giant Kuehne+Nagel International AG, more than 100 container ships are now taking a long route around Africa to avoid Houthi attacks, resulting in additional costs and delays.

Transportation companies are increasingly concerned that vessels belonging to any country are "prey". On Monday, oil and gas giant BP Plc said it would suspend all shipments through the Red Sea. MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co, the world's largest container line, and AP Moller-Maersk A/S have taken similar steps.

Houthi attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea

Since November this year, Yemeni Houthis have continued to attack merchant ships with ties to Israel in the Red Sea.

For example, on December 16, a British destroyer shot down a drone that tried to attack a merchant ship in the Red Sea with a Sea Viper missile.

Early last week, a Houthi ground-launched cruise missile hit the commercial tanker Strinda. The vessel was seriously damaged and a fire broke out on board. The Norwegian-flagged ship was transporting oil and biofuel from Malaysia to Venice.

In addition, the United States announced that it was considering a strike against the Houthis because of the attacks on merchant ships.

On December 19, the Pentagon announced the launch of a special operation called Prosperity Guardian to protect shipping in the Red Sea.