US attack continues against Houthis, ship catch fire in Red Sea
United States calls Ansarullah, also known as the Houthis, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist
U.S. Central forces attacked 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen on January 17, 2024.
"These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves," U.S. Central Command said in its latest update on X.
"These strikes, along with other actions we have taken, will degrade the Houthis capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden."
General Michael Erik Kurilla, Commander, US Centcom says: "“The actions by the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists continue to endanger international mariners and disrupt the commercial shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea and adjacent waterways. We will continue to take actions to protect the lives of innocent mariners and we will always protect our people.”
US calls Houthis terrorists
The United States announced the designation of Ansarullah, also known as the Houthis, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
"This designation is an important tool to impede terrorist funding to the Houthis, further restrict their access to financial markets, and hold them accountable for their actions," says a statement from Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, U.S. "If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will immediately reevaluate this designation."
The designation will take effect 30 days from now to allow the U.S. to ensure humanitarian carve outs are in place to target Houthis and not the people of Yemen, the statement added. "We are rolling out unprecedented carve outs and licences to help prevent adverse impacts on the Yemeni people. The people of Yemen should not pay the price for the actions of the Houthis.
"We are sending a clear message: commercial shipments into Yemeni ports on which the Yemeni people rely for food, medicine and fuel should continue and are not covered by our sanctions. This is in addition to the carve outs we include in all sanctions programs for food, medicine, and humanitarian assistance."
Attacks on ships continue
A ship was attacked by an uncrewed aerial system on January 17, 2024, according to the latest update from the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations. “Master reported that there was fire onboard, which has been extinguished. Vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to the next port of call.”
The agency has cautioned vessels to “transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO.”
Uncertainty to continue for some time
Maersk’s CEO stated yesterday that he expects the disruption to last at least a few months, writes Lars Jensen in his latest LinkedIn post. "Whilst this is not a positive outlook, it is an assessment I would tend to agree with in the light of a situation that has worsened in recent days."
Ocean freight shipping rates spiked even further in the four days following air strikes by the U.S. and U.K. on Houthi militia in Yemen, says the update from Xeneta on January 16, 2024.
"Between the Far East and Mediterranean, average market rates have increased by 26 percent since Friday while the increases from the Far East to North Europe and the U.S. East Coast stand at 21 percent and 20 percent, respectively."