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U.S. and Allies Launch Counter-Strikes Against Houthis in Bid to End Shipping Attacks

The United States, along with the United Kingdom and its allies, carried out airstrikes against Houthi positions and infrastructure deep inside Yemen.

The airstrikes came after weeks of warnings from the U.S. and its allies that patience was wearing thin on withering Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in and near the Red Sea. The attacks have caused massive shipping delays and disruptions, as we have reported throughout the past month.

More than a dozen Houthi rebel sites inside Yemen were bombed yesterday. A total of over 60 targets were targeted as part of the counterstrike. President Biden, speaking in Washington, noted that the U.S. “will not tolerate” the attacks. For weeks, many nations warned that if the attacks by Houthi rebels did not stop, there would be a retaliatory response.

Houthi rebels, though based in Yemen, are allied with Iran. The U.S. and allies, despite all of the disruptions on shipping, trade, and commerce were skeptical of a counterstrike because they did not want to risk inflaming tensions in the Middle East, and around the world. Now, with shipping completely disrupted, there was no other choice.

What prompted the counterstrike?

As a consequence of Houthi attacks, many vessels stopped traversing normal routes, through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, and instead reverted to the centuries-old route of sailing around the Cape of Africa, which adds up to two weeks’ of additional transit time.

The U.S. had, for several days last week, warned the Houthis and Iranians on the ongoing attacks. After attacks slowed for a few days, there was a large attack earlier this week.

What comes next for shipping?

The countries who conducted the counterstrikes have said repeatedly that if further attacks happen, they reserve the right to conduct further airstrikes. Iran has vowed retaliation. It will be a volatile period over the next few days. If attacks are not completely squashed over the next couple of weeks, shipping lines may opt to continue the longer route around the Cape of Africa. If security measures are successful, shipping routes may resume with shorter delivery times, bringing relief.


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