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Red Sea – Houthi attacks. A naval coalition was formed. Who threatens world trade?

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Attacks on ships in the Red Sea may cause a shock for the global economy, warns the American station CNN. The largest shipping companies have already announced their withdrawal from this area, and the United States announced the formation of a powerful coalition to restore security. Who is attacking ships in the Red Sea and why? Why were these attacks met with such a strong Western response?

United States announced on Monday the creation of a new international coalition to protect merchant ships transiting the Red Sea. 44 countries will officially operate in the joint operation “Prosperity Guardian”, including: Great Britain naval forces BahrainCanada, FranceItaly, Netherlands, Norway and Spain. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby added that there are also countries that participate in the coalition but do not do so publicly.

Why was this coalition formed? Who is threatening ships in the Red Sea and why?

SEE ALSO: White House: ceasefire talks in Gaza “very serious”

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Houthis – who are they?

They attack ships in the Red Sea Houthi fighters – a Shiite political and military organization from Yemen. Missiles and drones are used for attacks, and there are also cases of landings carried out from small boats and even from a helicopter.

The Houthi movement was founded in the 1990s by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. Initially, he acted peacefully, opposing the Sunni domination supported by Saudi Arabia and demanding improved rights for Shiites, including: by changing the Yemeni constitution.

However, the Houthis became radicalized in 2004, opposing the US military intervention in Iraq supported by the Yemeni authorities. The Shiite Houthi rebellion against the Sunni central authorities then began, fought with varying intensity. Since the Houthis captured the capital and staged a coup d’état in 2015, a civil war has been ongoing in Yemen, in which the Houthis are fighting against the Saudi-backed coalition.

New members of the Houthi movement during a march in Yemen’s Amran province, December 20, 2023.PAP/EPA/OSAMAH YAHYA

Why are the Houthis attacking ships?

Why have the Houthis, fighting in Yemen’s civil war, now started attacking merchant ships in the Red Sea? Representatives of the movement claim that Israeli ships are being attacked as part of a protest against Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

According to the rebels, their campaign “aims to support the Palestinians” and the attacks will only stop when Israel allows the transport of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The aim of the Houthi attacks is to cause losses in Israel and its allies, thus putting pressure on them to stop bombing Palestinian territories.

Standing up for the Palestinians may also be an attempt by the Houthis to gain popularity in Yemen and other countries in the region. The Houthis have repeatedly criticized Saudi Arabia and the coalition it leads as allies of the US and Israel, so they may now gain support among anti-American and anti-Israel communities.



Why was the maritime coalition formed?

Attacks by Houthi militants on merchant ships in the Red Sea have prompted the US to form a new international coalition as they seriously threaten maritime trade routes. Blocking one of the bottlenecks in global maritime transport, i.e. the route through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal, may lead to serious losses in the global economy.

If the security of the Red Sea maritime trade route is not restored quickly, trade ships will be forced to take a much longer route around Africa, causing freight costs to skyrocket. The costs of insurance for such transport will also increase significantly. In turn, companies “may pass on the increased costs of transporting their goods to consumers by raising prices again,” CNN predicts.

This would cause the greatest losses among the world’s largest economies, which is why many countries have already been involved in protecting shipping in the Red Sea. American, French and British ships have been shooting down Yemeni missiles and drones for several weeks; on December 16 alone, they destroyed 15 of them.

“But such a defensive approach is difficult to maintain. Surface-to-air missiles costing millions of dollars are used to rain down cheap Iranian drones. And just a handful (of such drones – ed.) is enough to keep ships and insurance companies away,” writes the Economist .

SEE ALSO: Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross: the situation in the Gaza Strip is a “moral failure”

Attacks in the Red Sea – consequences

Attacks on ships in the Red Sea have already had serious consequences for the global economy. Four of the five largest shipping companies in the world: Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM Group and Evergreen have already announced that they are suspending the navigation of their vessels through the Red Sea because of them.

In turn, the oil company BP announced that it was suspending oil supplies via the Red Sea. This decision, as CNN noted, immediately “caused oil and gas prices to skyrocket.”

SEE ALSO: Unexpected visit of the head of the Pentagon to the USS Gerald Ford aircraft carrier, Houthi movement threatens to attack the ships

PAP, CNN, Reuters, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: YAHYA ARHAB/PAP/EPA

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