Escalation in the Red Sea and Its Implications on Maritime Security and Global Economic Stability.
The ongoing Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea are escalating concerns about maritime security and its impact on global economic stability. These attacks, involving anti-ship ballistic missiles, have led to the suspension of operations by 19 shipping companies through the Suez Canal and forced the Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen to halt its Red Sea operations. In a significant development, the U.S. military command announced that on January 11, 2024, it intercepted advanced Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis. The seizure was executed by U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) naval forces near the Somali coast in the Arabian Sea’s international waters. The operation, conducted by U.S. Navy SEALs supported by helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from USS LEWIS B PULLER (ESB 3), resulted in the capture of components for medium-range ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as air defense systems. On January 15, 2024, at 2:00 PM Sanaa time, U.S. forces detected a Houthi-launched anti-ship ballistic missile aimed at the Southern Red Sea shipping lanes. The missile failed and landed in Yemeni territory without causing injuries or damage. At 4:00 PM, the Iran-backed Houthis fired another anti-ship ballistic missile from Yemen, striking the M/V Gibraltar Eagle, a Marshall Islands-flagged container ship operated by the United States. The ship reported no injuries or significant damage and continued its journey. The situation intensified on January 16, 2024. At 4:15 AM Sanaa time, U.S. forces conducted strikes against the Houthis, destroying four anti-ship ballistic missiles ready for launch in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. At 1:45 PM, the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea, hitting the M/V Zografia, a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier. The vessel remained seaworthy and continued its transit through the Red Sea with no reported injuries. These escalating Houthi attacks in maritime chokepoints and the Arabian Sea have led to significant disruptions in international shipping. The ongoing threats have forced vessels, including those transporting liquefied natural gas from Qatar, to take alternative routes such as the Cape of Good Hope. The situation has prompted closed-session discussions at the United Nations Security Council, involving the UN envoy and other officials, focusing on Houthi attacks, military responses in the Red Sea, and potential deterrent measures against Houthi activities in international waters. This series of events underscores the growing challenge to maritime security and the impact on global economic stability, necessitating an effective and coordinated international response to enhance security and peace in the region.