Houthis introduce ‘submarine weapons’ in attacks on vessels

Friday, Feb 23, 2024

DUBAI/ADEN/LONDON: Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis will escalate their attacks on ships in the Red Sea and other waters and have introduced “submarine weapons”, in continued solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war, the group’s leader said on Thursday.

Houthi militants have launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden since November in support of Palestinians, as the Israel-Hamas war continues and the Gaza death toll reaches almost 30,000.

“Operations in the Red and Arabian Seas, Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden are continuing, escalating, and effective,” Abdul Malik al-Houthi added in a televised speech. He gave no details of the submarine weapons.

The group’s strikes are disrupting a route that accounts for about 12% of global maritime traffic, and forcing firms to take a longer, more expensive route around Africa.

The leader’s speech came the same day the Houthis sent shippers and insurers formal notice of what they termed a ban on vessels linked to Israel, the U.S. and Britain from sailing in surrounding seas, seeking to reinforce their military campaign.

The Houthis’ communication, the first to the shipping industry outlining a ban, came in the form of two notices from the Houthis’ newly dubbed Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center sent to shipping insurers and firms.

Ships that are wholly or partially owned by Israeli individuals or entities and Israel-flagged vessels, or are owned by U.S. or British individuals or entities, or sailing under their flags, are banned from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, Thursday’s notices said.