Houthi Movement via Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images; Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Houthi Leader: Red Sea Strikes Are ‘Continuing, Escalating, and Effective’

Abdul Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists of Yemen, said in a televised speech on Thursday that his forces have been highly “effective” at shutting down Red Sea shipping traffic in defiance of the U.S. and its allies.

He promised the attacks would not only continue but expand and escalate.

“Operations in the Red and Arabian Seas, Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden are continuing, escalating, and effective,” the Houthi leader said.

A view of the oil tanker Marlin Luanda on fire after a Houthi attack on January 27, 2024, in the Gulf of Aden. (Indian Navy via AP)

Al-Houthi said part of this escalation would include using “submarine” weapons against targets in the Red Sea, which should be “worrying for the enemy.” 

The U.S. military destroyed an unmanned underwater vessel (UUV) shortly before the Houthis could launch it on Sunday. According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), it was the first underwater drone the Houthis deployed since their attacks began on shipping in October.

A spokesman for the Houthi military, which calls itself Ansar Allah (“Army of God”), on Thursday claimed responsibility for attacking a British-owned cargo ship and an American destroyer. 

Two Houthi missiles hit the cargo ship, the Palau-flagged MV Islander. It suffered some damage, a fire broke out on board, and a crew member was injured, but it was reportedly able to continue its voyage.

CENTCOM said American aircraft and an allied warship were able to intercept three Houthi kamikaze drones over the Red Sea on Thursday. U.S. forces also destroyed four Houthi drones and two mobile anti-ship cruise missiles on the ground. No ships were damaged in these engagements.

“These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels,” CENTCOM said.

On Friday, Ansar Allah announced it had established a “Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center,” which sent out notices to shipping and insurance companies warning that all ships linked to Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom would be attacked if they entered the Red Sea. 

The notice was another black eye for President Joe Biden’s “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” which was established to reassure shippers and insurers that they could safely transit the Red Sea under U.S. and allied naval protection. The Houthis have attacked half a dozen ships within the week. One of the targets, the British-owned cargo carrier MV Rubymar, was damaged badly enough to force its crew to abandon the ship.

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