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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Houthis Threatens to Target Ships in Eastern Mediterranean

Sat 04 May 2024 | 12:01 AM
Source: Bloomberg
Source: Bloomberg
Taarek Refaat

The Yemen-based Houthi movement has threatened to begin trying to target ships in the eastern Mediterranean as it intensifies its campaign of naval attacks.

The Iranian-backed militant group has made similar threats before, but although it has regularly attacked ships in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, it has shown little evidence of its ability to do so outside those waters.

These attacks ostensibly come in support of the Palestinians and against Israel in light of its continuing war against Hamas in Gaza.

The comments about the eastern Mediterranean – which is about 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) from Yemen – came in a speech on Friday by Yahya Saree, a Houthi spokesman. He warned Israel against attacking the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, and added that 40 members of the group were killed in the American and British raids on Houthi positions, which began in January.

The Houthis have threatened ships linked to Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. They have effectively closed the southern Red Sea to most Western ships, forcing them to avoid the Suez Canal and instead divert around South Africa on their journeys between Asia and Europe. This adds days and a lot of fuel and shipping costs to trips.

US and British air strikes have reduced the Houthis' capabilities, but they are still able to target ships. Shipping executives increasingly believe the Red Sea will remain extremely dangerous for several more months, if not for the rest of the year.

While the Houthis have begun targeting ships far from Yemen, including a ship in the Arabian Sea about 600 kilometers from the country last week, almost all of their successful strikes have been at shorter distances.