Escalating Tensions in the Red Sea: The USS Theodore Roosevelt’s Strategic Deployment

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In recent weeks, the geopolitical landscape of the Red Sea has become increasingly volatile as Yemen’s Ansar Allah movement, commonly known as the Houthis, intensifies its military operations. This escalation has led to the imminent deployment of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, to assume duties in the region. The strategic move follows a series of aggressive actions by the Houthis, including missile and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) attacks targeting the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which resulted in the supercarrier’s withdrawal after an eight-month posting.

Houthi Threats and the USS Theodore Roosevelt

The Houthis have not shied away from issuing direct threats against the incoming USS Theodore Roosevelt. In a provocative video, the Houthi militia promised to target and sink the aircraft carrier upon its entry into Red Sea waters. Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Ansar Allah movement, declared the USS Theodore Roosevelt as a primary target for the Yemeni Army’s missile forces. Al-Houthi’s bold statement underscored the potential for increased hostilities: “If they want to take the risk, get themselves into trouble, and put themselves into the same predicament that Eisenhower was, let them come.”

This rhetoric is part of a broader strategy by the Houthis to disrupt naval traffic, particularly targeting Israeli-owned or bound vessels. The Houthis have vowed to halt all such traffic through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden until Israel ceases its military operations in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. This threat adds another layer of complexity to an already fraught maritime environment.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Ordeal

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, prior to its exit, faced multiple attempts by the Houthis to inflict damage. Despite the US Navy’s insistence that these attacks caused no significant harm to the supercarrier or its escorts, the intensity and frequency of the assaults were noteworthy. A missile and drone barrage in early June marked the climax of these hostilities, occurring just before the Eisenhower’s departure from the region.

In May, Hezam al-Asad, a member of the Ansar Allah political office, detailed the motivations behind these attacks. According to al-Asad, the assaults were a direct response to US and UK air strikes on Yemeni cities and civilian targets, which resulted in over 58 casualties, predominantly civilians. This narrative highlights the cyclical nature of violence in the region, where retaliatory strikes perpetuate an ongoing conflict.

The Strategic Importance of the Red Sea

The Red Sea’s significance in global trade and military strategy cannot be overstated. It is a critical chokepoint for maritime traffic, including energy supplies from the Middle East to Europe and North America. The potential for disruption in this region has far-reaching implications for global markets and international security. The presence of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Red Sea is intended to ensure the free flow of commerce and deter hostile actions that threaten regional stability.

The decision to deploy the USS Theodore Roosevelt comes amidst heightened tensions and the ongoing Yemeni blockade of Israeli-bound ships. This blockade has prompted a robust response from the United States, which has sent additional warships to the Red Sea. This coalition, including several NATO member states like the UK, has been actively engaging Houthi targets in Yemen, further intensifying the conflict.

Historical Context of the Houthi Conflict

To fully grasp the current situation, it is essential to understand the historical context of the Houthi conflict. The Houthis, a Zaidi Shia Muslim minority from northern Yemen, have long felt marginalized by the Yemeni government. Their grievances came to a head in 2014 when they seized the capital, Sana’a, and subsequently forced President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile.

The conflict quickly escalated into a full-scale civil war, drawing in regional powers. Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition of Sunni-majority countries, launched a military intervention in 2015 aimed at restoring Hadi’s government. The United States and the United Kingdom have provided logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition. Meanwhile, Iran has been accused of supplying the Houthis with weapons and other support, though Tehran denies these allegations.

The war has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with thousands of civilians killed and millions displaced. Despite numerous attempts at peace talks, a lasting resolution remains elusive. The Houthis’ control over large parts of northern Yemen, including the capital, has enabled them to launch cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia and threaten maritime traffic in the Red Sea.

The Role of UAVs and Missiles in Modern Warfare

The use of UAVs and missiles by the Houthis represents a significant shift in modern warfare tactics. These technologies have allowed non-state actors to challenge even the most sophisticated military forces. The Houthis have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and innovate, using relatively low-cost drones and missiles to conduct asymmetric warfare against high-value targets.

The attacks on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower highlight the effectiveness of these tactics. Despite the carrier’s advanced defense systems, the sheer volume and persistence of Houthi attacks have forced the US Navy to remain vigilant. The prospect of similar attacks on the USS Theodore Roosevelt underscores the evolving nature of the threat in the Red Sea.

The Impact on Global Trade and Energy Supplies

The Red Sea is a vital artery for global trade, with the Suez Canal serving as a crucial link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Any disruption in this region can have significant repercussions for international shipping and energy supplies. The threat posed by the Houthis to naval traffic, particularly vessels bound for Israel, adds another layer of complexity to the situation.

The strategic deployment of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is aimed at mitigating these risks. By ensuring the security of maritime routes, the United States seeks to maintain the stability of global markets. However, the presence of a US supercarrier in the Red Sea also raises the stakes, increasing the potential for direct confrontation with the Houthis.

International Responses and Diplomatic Efforts

The international community has expressed deep concern over the escalating tensions in the Red Sea. The United Nations has called for restraint and urged all parties to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire in Yemen have intensified, with special envoys from various countries engaging in shuttle diplomacy.

The European Union has also played a role in these efforts, emphasizing the need for a negotiated settlement to the conflict. The EU’s foreign policy chief has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of peace talks. However, the complexities of the Yemeni conflict, combined with regional rivalries, have made these efforts challenging.

The Future of US Naval Operations in the Red Sea

The deployment of the USS Theodore Roosevelt marks a significant moment in US naval operations in the Red Sea. The aircraft carrier’s presence is intended to project power and deter hostile actions, ensuring the security of maritime routes. However, the risks associated with this deployment are considerable, given the Houthi threats and the potential for escalation.

As the situation evolves, the US Navy will need to adapt its strategies to address the unique challenges posed by the Houthis. This may involve enhanced cooperation with regional allies, increased surveillance and reconnaissance efforts, and the development of new defensive measures against UAVs and missiles.

In conclusion, the arrival of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Red Sea represents a critical juncture in the ongoing conflict between Yemen’s Houthi movement and the United States. The heightened tensions and the potential for further escalation underscore the complexity of the geopolitical landscape in this strategically vital region. As the international community watches closely, the stakes could not be higher for global trade, energy supplies, and regional stability.

In light of the evolving threat dynamics, the US Navy’s strategic deployment aims to ensure the security of maritime routes while projecting power and deterring hostile actions. The outcome of this deployment, and the broader conflict in Yemen, will have far-reaching implications for international security and the stability of the Middle East.

The ability of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and its accompanying forces to navigate these challenges will be closely scrutinized by allies and adversaries alike. The future of US naval operations in the Red Sea will depend on the success of this mission and the broader efforts to achieve a lasting resolution to the Yemeni conflict.

As tensions continue to rise, the international community’s role in supporting diplomatic efforts and promoting peace will be crucial. The stakes are high, and the need for a comprehensive and lasting solution to the conflict in Yemen has never been more urgent.


APPENDX 1 – Analysis of the Houthis’ Strategy, Goals, and Future Actions in the Red Sea Crisis

Since November 2023, the Houthis, a Yemeni political and armed group, have significantly escalated their attacks in the Red Sea region, targeting both military and commercial vessels. This analysis delves into the Houthis’ strategic objectives, operational tactics, and the broader geopolitical implications, especially in relation to Iran’s support and shared strategies. By examining the timeline of events, this document aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Houthis’ long-term goals and potential future actions.

Strategic Objectives of the Houthis

The Houthis’ attacks in the Red Sea and surrounding regions appear to be driven by several key strategic objectives:

  • Disruption of Global Trade:
    The Houthis have targeted commercial vessels and major shipping routes, causing significant disruptions to global trade. By attacking ships in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and surrounding waters, they aim to create economic instability and increase shipping costs, forcing vessels to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Military Pressure on Adversaries:
    The Houthis’ attacks on military targets, including US Navy vessels and allied ships, are intended to exert military pressure on their adversaries. By engaging in asymmetric warfare, the Houthis aim to demonstrate their capability to strike at high-value targets, thereby deterring further military intervention against them.
  • Political Leverage:
    Through these attacks, the Houthis seek to gain political leverage in negotiations. By showcasing their ability to disrupt regional stability, they aim to force their adversaries into concessions and potentially secure a more favorable position in future peace talks.
  • Strengthening Alliances with Iran:
    The Houthis’ operational tactics and the sophistication of their weaponry suggest a strong alliance with Iran. By aligning their actions with Iranian strategic interests, the Houthis aim to secure continued support and advanced weaponry from Tehran, which enhances their military capabilities.

Detailed Analysis of Events

November 2023

  • 14 Nov: Numerous missile attacks by Houthis aimed at Eilat, Israel, were intercepted by Israeli defenses. This coordinated attack on a significant Israeli port city indicates the Houthis’ intent to disrupt Israeli economic activities and signal their reach.
  • 15 Nov: The USS Thomas Hudner shot down a drone fired from Yemen, highlighting the Houthis’ focus on targeting US naval assets to challenge American military presence in the region.
  • 22 Nov: A Houthi cruise missile aimed at Eilat was shot down by an F-35. The use of advanced missile technology underscores the sophistication of Houthi weaponry, likely supplied by Iran.
  • 23 Nov: The USS Thomas Hudner intercepted several attack drones launched by the Houthis, demonstrating their persistent efforts to challenge US naval operations.
  • 29 Nov: The USS Carney shot down a Houthi KAS-04 drone near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a critical chokepoint for global shipping. This attack further emphasizes the Houthis’ strategy to disrupt maritime traffic in strategic locations.
  • 30 Nov: Reports of an Israeli airstrike causing an explosion at a Houthi arms depot in Sana’a, claimed by the Houthis to be a gas station, reveal the ongoing tit-for-tat nature of the conflict.

December 2023

  • 6 Dec: Houthis launched ballistic missiles at Israeli military posts in Eilat, while the USS Mason shot down a drone from Yemen. The combination of ballistic missile and drone attacks highlights the Houthis’ multifaceted approach to warfare.
  • 10 Dec: The French Navy frigate Languedoc intercepted two drones from Hodeida, Yemen. The involvement of European naval forces indicates the international dimension of the conflict.
  • 11 Dec: The Norwegian oil tanker Strinda was attacked, causing a fire, with the French Navy intervening. This attack on a commercial vessel underscores the Houthis’ intent to impact global trade.
  • 14 Dec: India initiated Operation Sankalp for regional maritime security, reflecting the broader regional impact of the Houthi threat and the need for international cooperation to ensure maritime safety.
  • 21 Dec: The Port of Eilat saw an 85% drop in activity due to Houthi actions, showcasing the economic impact of their attacks on critical infrastructure.
  • 26 Dec: Multiple drone and missile attacks by Houthis on Eilat and other Israeli targets, with all threats intercepted by US and Israeli defenses. The scale and frequency of these attacks indicate the Houthis’ persistent efforts to challenge Israeli and US military capabilities.

January 2024

  • 4 Jan: Houthis launched a USV towards US Navy vessels, which detonated far from the target, demonstrating their use of unmanned surface vehicles in naval warfare.
  • 7 Jan: Houthi retaliatory attacks against US Navy vessels led to the deployment of Pakistani Navy frigates, highlighting the expanding involvement of regional naval forces.
  • 10 Jan: A large-scale Houthi attack on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and other vessels involved 21 UAVs and missiles, showcasing their ability to coordinate complex, large-scale assaults.
  • 11 Jan: US Navy SEALs raided a ship carrying Iranian weapons for Houthis, resulting in two SEALs declared dead after the search. This incident underscores the high stakes and risks involved in intercepting arms supplies.
  • 12 Jan: US and UK conducted airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, marking the first such strikes since the Red Sea crisis began, indicating a shift towards more direct military intervention.
  • 14 Jan: Houthis fired an anti-ship cruise missile from Hodeida towards the USS Laboon, intercepted by a fighter jet. This attack on a US Navy vessel highlights their ongoing threat to naval operations.
  • 16 Jan: The US struck four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles being prepared for launch, demonstrating proactive measures to neutralize threats before they materialize.
  • 22 Jan: US and UK conducted airstrikes on eight Houthi targets near Sanaa airport, reflecting the intensification of efforts to degrade Houthi military capabilities.
  • 24 Jan: The French frigate Alsace joined defense operations in the Red Sea, showcasing the growing coalition of international forces responding to the Houthi threat.
  • 26-27 Jan: The French frigate Alsace and US destroyers aided an oil tanker on fire in the Gulf of Aden caused by a missile from Yemen, highlighting the ongoing risks to commercial shipping.
  • 29 Jan: The Danish frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt departed for the Red Sea to assist the US-led coalition, indicating increased international naval cooperation.
  • 31 Jan: The EU announced plans for a naval mission to protect merchant shipping in the Red Sea within three weeks, underscoring the need for coordinated international efforts to ensure maritime security.

February 2024

  • 2 Feb: Houthis claimed they fired a ballistic missile towards Eilat, intercepted by the Arrow defense system, indicating continued targeting of Israeli strategic assets.
  • 3 Feb: US and UK strikes on 36 Houthi sites across Yemen reflect ongoing efforts to degrade their operational capabilities.
  • 8 Feb: German frigate Hessen deployed to the Red Sea for the EU mission, further expanding the international naval presence in the region.
  • 10 Feb: Houthi media listed 17 fighters killed during US-UK strikes, highlighting the impact of coalition airstrikes on their personnel.
  • 15 Feb: The US Coast Guard seized a vessel with advanced weapons from Iran bound for Houthis, showcasing the ongoing arms smuggling operations.
  • 19 Feb: The launch of Operation Aspides, the EU naval mission to protect shipping in the Red Sea, marks a significant step in coordinated international maritime security efforts.
  • 20 Feb: France shot down two Houthi UAVs; CENTCOM announced the interception of 10 drones and a cruise missile targeting the USS Laboon, indicating the high frequency of Houthi drone attacks.
  • 22 Feb: Houthis launched drones and ballistic missiles targeting Eilat and an American destroyer, with none striking their targets, highlighting their persistent threat.
  • 24 Feb: US and UK conducted airstrikes on 18 Houthi targets across eight locations, reflecting the ongoing campaign to neutralize Houthi military capabilities.
  • 26 Feb: Damage to Red Sea undersea communication cables reported, linked to Houthi attacks, illustrating the broader infrastructure impact of their operations.
  • 27 Feb: The German frigate Hessen intercepted two Houthi drones targeting the vessel, showcasing the ongoing threat to naval forces.

March 2024

  • 2 Mar: The Italian destroyer Caio Duilio shot down a Houthi missile over the Red Sea, highlighting the continued threat to naval vessels.
  • 4 Mar: The INS Kolkata responded to an attack on MSC Sky II in the Gulf of Aden, illustrating the ongoing risks to commercial shipping.
  • 8 Mar: Finland and the Netherlands announced their participation in EU and US-led operations in the Red Sea, expanding the coalition of nations involved in maritime security.
  • 11 Mar: US and UK conducted 17 airstrikes against Houthi-controlled port cities and towns in Western Yemen, reflecting the ongoing efforts to degrade Houthi operational capabilities.
  • 12 Mar: The Italian destroyer Duilio shot down two Houthi drones in self-defense, showcasing the persistent threat posed by Houthi drone attacks.
  • 18 Mar: Houthis launched a cruise missile that struck Israel, reportedly hitting an open area north of Eilat, indicating their continued ability to strike Israeli targets.
  • 20 Mar: The French FREMM Alsace helicopter destroyed a Houthi UAV flying towards commercial vessels over the southern Red Sea, highlighting the ongoing risks to commercial shipping.
  • 21 Mar: The German frigate Hessen’s helicopter destroyed a Houthi seaborne drone in the Red Sea; the French FREMM Alsace destroyed three Houthi ballistic missiles, illustrating the persistent threat to naval and commercial vessels.
  • 27 Mar: The US Navy shot down four Houthi UAVs targeting warships in the Red Sea, reflecting the ongoing threat to naval operations.
  • 28 Mar: Russian warships, including the cruiser Varyag, entered the Red Sea following a political deal with Houthis, indicating the geopolitical complexity of the conflict.

April 2024

  • 3 Apr: The Danish chief of defense was fired after failing to report flaws in air defenses and weapons systems aboard the Ivar Huitfeldt frigate, reflecting the operational challenges faced by naval forces.
  • 9 Apr: The IDF used a seaborne missile from the INS Magen to shoot down a UAV from the Red Sea, illustrating the ongoing threat to Israeli maritime assets.
  • 10 Apr: The US military destroyed eleven Houthi drones posing a threat to US, coalition, and merchant vessels, reflecting the high frequency of Houthi drone attacks.
  • 13 Apr: Houthis and Iran coordinated drone attacks on Israel, likely targeting Israeli ports, indicating a shared strategy with Iran.
  • 18 Apr: The Iranian spy ship MV Behshad, suspected of assisting Houthis, started sailing towards Bandar Abbas, reflecting ongoing Iranian support.
  • 25 Apr: The Greek frigate intercepted two Houthi drones in the Red Sea, showcasing the ongoing threat to naval forces.
  • 26 Apr: Houthis claimed to have shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone off the coast of Yemen, highlighting their anti-drone capabilities.

May 2024

  • 1 May: Houthi attacks on commercial vessels increased; 40 vessels attacked by February 2024, reflecting the significant impact on global trade.
  • 7 May: The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to the Red Sea after a port call in Crete, indicating ongoing US naval presence in the region.
  • 10 May: A coalition warplane intercepted a Houthi drone over the Gulf of Aden; three more drones intercepted over the Red Sea the next day, highlighting the high frequency of Houthi drone attacks.
  • 21 May: Houthis claimed to have shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone in Al Bayda Governorate, reflecting their anti-drone capabilities.
  • 29 May: Houthis claimed to have shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone over Marib province, highlighting their continued focus on targeting US assets.
  • 30 May: US and UK conducted strikes on 13 Houthi targets across Yemen, killing 16 people and injuring 35, reflecting the ongoing military campaign against Houthi forces.

June 2024

  • 6 Jun: Houthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed coordinated attacks on Haifa; Israel denied the claims, indicating ongoing threats to Israeli ports.
  • 7 Jun: Houthis claimed to have targeted the container ship Elbella and the cargo ship AAL GENOA in the Red Sea with ballistic and naval missiles as well as drones; no independent confirmation, indicating ongoing risks to commercial shipping.
  • 8 Jun: Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles targeted the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship Norderney and the Liberian-flagged container ship MSC Tavvishi in the Gulf of Aden, causing minor damage and a small fire on Norderney, highlighting the ongoing threat to commercial vessels.
  • 12 Jun: Houthis struck the Liberian-flagged cargo ship Tutor twice in the Red Sea near Al Hudaydah using ballistic missiles, drones, and a USV. The ship began to take on water and was abandoned by the crew. One crew member was reported missing, indicating the high risks to commercial shipping.
  • 13 Jun: Houthis launched two cruise missiles at the Palauan-flagged bulk cargo carrier M/V Verbena in the Gulf of Aden, causing damage and fires on board. An American sailor was severely injured, highlighting the human cost of the conflict.
  • 16 Jun: Houthis claimed to have targeted the ships Captain Paris and Happy Condor with missiles and drones, respectively. An unidentified vessel reported explosions near it without suffering damage or casualties, indicating ongoing risks to commercial shipping.
  • 18 Jun: The Palauan-flagged LNG carrier Asya Energy sailed through the Red Sea without incident, marking the first successful transit by an LNG carrier since January 2024, reflecting the significant impact on maritime traffic.
  • 21 Jun: UKMTO and the Joint Maritime Information Center reported that a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden was targeted by the Houthis with ballistic missiles; no casualties or damage reported, indicating ongoing risks to commercial shipping.
  • 22 Jun: Houthis claimed to have targeted the Transworld Navigator again using a USV in the Red Sea, causing minor injuries and moderate damage to the ship, highlighting the ongoing threat to commercial vessels.
  • 24 Jun: The Liberian-flagged container ship MSC Sarah V reported a missile attack near it in the Arabian Sea; no damage or injuries reported, indicating the persistent threat to commercial shipping.
  • 26 Jun: Houthis claimed to have targeted the Portuguese-flagged container ship MSC Manzanillo docked in Haifa with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; IDF denied the claim, reflecting the ongoing propaganda and psychological warfare.
  • 28 Jun: The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Delonix was targeted by five missiles northwest of Al Hudaydah but escaped unharmed; Houthis claimed it took a direct hit. They also claimed to have targeted the bulk carrier Ioannis in the Red Sea and the oil tanker Waler and container ship Johannes Maersk in the Mediterranean Sea, highlighting the broad geographical scope of their attacks.

July 2024

  • 1 Jul: Houthis claimed to have targeted the Delonix in the Red Sea, MSC Unific in the Arabian Sea, the British sealift ship Anvil Point in the Indian Ocean, and the Lucky Sailor in the Mediterranean Sea; no confirmation, reflecting the ongoing threat to a wide range of maritime targets.
  • 3 Jul: Houthis targeted the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Gravely, and three commercial vessels on 1 June. The US Central Command confirmed the attacks, adding that no casualties or damage were reported, highlighting the persistent threat to US naval and commercial assets.
  • 6 Jul: Houthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed to have launched two coordinated attacks on Haifa; Israel denied the claims. Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi announced the introduction of “submarine weapons,” indicating a potential new phase in their maritime warfare capabilities.
  • 8 Jul: The Houthis targeted the Danish frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt in the Red Sea, leading to the discovery of flaws in the ship’s air defenses and weapons systems, reflecting the ongoing threat to naval forces.

Shared Strategy with Iran

The Houthis’ attacks demonstrate a significant degree of coordination with Iran, reflecting a shared strategy that aligns with Tehran’s broader regional objectives. Key elements of this shared strategy include:

  • Supply of Advanced Weaponry:
    The sophistication of Houthi missiles, drones, and other weaponry suggests a strong supply chain from Iran. The interception of arms shipments and the use of advanced technology in attacks indicate Iran’s role in enhancing Houthi capabilities.
  • Asymmetric Warfare Tactics:
    Both the Houthis and Iran engage in asymmetric warfare, utilizing drones, missiles, and unconventional tactics to challenge more powerful adversaries. This approach is evident in the Houthis’ attacks on US and allied naval assets, as well as their targeting of commercial shipping.
  • Disruption of Global Trade:
    By targeting key maritime routes and commercial vessels, the Houthis align with Iran’s strategy of creating economic disruptions that impact global trade, particularly through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. This strategy aims to exert pressure on Western and regional adversaries.
  • Political and Military Leverage:
    The Houthis’ attacks serve to increase their political and military leverage, aligning with Iran’s broader goal of expanding its influence in the region. By supporting the Houthis, Iran gains a proxy force capable of challenging US and allied interests.

Future Actions and Strategies

Given the current trajectory of Houthi activities and their alignment with Iranian objectives, several potential future actions and strategies can be anticipated:

  • Expansion of Maritime Attacks:
    The Houthis are likely to continue and possibly expand their attacks on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and surrounding waters. This includes the potential use of new “submarine weapons” as announced by their leader.
  • Increased Use of UAVs and Missiles:
    The frequency and sophistication of drone and missile attacks are expected to increase. The Houthis will likely continue to target high-value military assets and critical infrastructure to maximize their impact.
  • Coordination with Other Regional Actors:
    The Houthis may strengthen their coordination with other Iran-aligned groups, such as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, to launch joint operations and enhance their operational capabilities.
  • Focus on Psychological Warfare:
    The Houthis will continue to engage in propaganda and psychological warfare, using claims of successful attacks to create fear and uncertainty among their adversaries. This includes leveraging media channels to amplify their impact.
  • Targeting Strategic Infrastructure:
    In addition to maritime attacks, the Houthis may increasingly target strategic infrastructure such as ports, oil facilities, and communication networks to further disrupt regional stability and economic activities.
  • Engagement in Peace Talks:
    As the conflict escalates, there may be increased international pressure for peace talks. The Houthis will likely use their military successes as leverage to secure favorable terms in any negotiations.

The Houthis’ strategy in the Red Sea crisis is multifaceted,

involving a combination of military, economic, and psychological tactics aimed at disrupting global trade, exerting pressure on their adversaries, and gaining political leverage. Their actions are closely aligned with Iranian objectives, reflecting a shared strategy that enhances their operational capabilities and regional influence.

Future actions by the Houthis are likely to involve continued and expanded attacks on maritime targets, increased use of advanced weaponry, and strengthened coordination with other regional actors. The international community’s response, including coordinated naval operations and diplomatic efforts, will be crucial in addressing the ongoing threat and ensuring regional stability.


APPENDIX 2 – The Houthi attacks

The Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, which began in November 2023, have escalated, significantly impacting global trade routes. Below is a detailed technical overview and a comprehensive scheme table summarizing the incidents, agents, and outcomes of these attacks based on the data provided.

Detailed Scheme Table: Houthi Weapons and Recent Events

WeaponTypeRangeOriginUsage & Recent Events
ToufanSurface-to-surface missile1,800 km (1,100 mi)IranCapable of reaching Israel. Deployed in multiple attacks towards Israel and other targets in the region.
Soumar Cruise MissilesCruise missile~2,000 km (1,200 mi)IranUsed in various attacks targeting Israel, US naval vessels, and other regional targets.
Quds-2Missile1,350 km (840 mi)IranSpecifically designed to strike Israel, has been used in recent conflicts.
Samad-3 and Samad-4UAVs/Loitering munitions1,800 km (1,100 mi)IranFrequently used in attacks on naval and land targets in the Red Sea and surrounding areas.
Wa’id DronesLoitering munition2,500 km (1,600 mi)IranUtilized in long-range attacks, including targeting Israeli and US interests in the region.

Summary of Houthi Attacks on Vessels (2023-2024)

Background and Motivation: The Houthi rebel group, backed by Iran, began targeting commercial vessels following the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. Initially focusing on vessels with Israeli affiliations, the attacks expanded to include any ship transiting through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and even parts of the Arabian and Mediterranean Seas​.

Impact on Global Trade:

  • The Houthi attacks have caused a significant drop in the number of vessels passing through the Suez Canal, with a 90% decrease in container ships transiting the Red Sea between December 2023 and February 2024​ ​.
  • Major shipping companies, including Maersk and MSC, have rerouted vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, resulting in increased fuel costs and transit times, thereby raising shipping costs globally​.
  • Insurance premiums for ships using the Red Sea have surged nearly tenfold, further exacerbating the economic impact​ ​.
DateVessel NameFlagAgentResult
19 November 2023Galaxy LeaderBahamasHouthi Mil Mi-17 helicopterUnharmed
24 November 2023CMA CGM SymiMaltaIran (Alleged)Damaged
26 November 2023Central ParkLiberiaHouthi crewUnharmed
3 December 2023Number 9PanamaHouthi ballistic missileMinor damage
3 December 2023Sophie IIPanamaHouthi ballistic missileMinor damage
3 December 2023Unity ExplorerBahamasHouthi ballistic missileMinor damage
12 December 2023StrindaNorwayHouthi missileSet afire
13 December 2023Ardmore EncounterMarshall IslandsHouthi dronesUnharmed
14 December 2023Maersk GibraltarHong KongHouthi missileUnharmed
15 December 2023MSC AlanyaLiberiaHouthi naval missileUnknown
15 December 2023MSC Palatium IIILiberiaHouthi Naval missileUnknown
15 December 2023Al-JasrahLiberiaHouthi projectileSet afire
18 December 2023MSC ClaraPanamaHouthi dronesUnknown
18 December 2023Swan AtlanticNorwayHouthi dronesMinor damage
26 December 2023MSC United VIIILiberiaHouthi naval missileUnknown
30 December 2023Maersk HangzhouSingaporeHouthi land-based missileMinor damage
31 December 2023Maersk HangzhouSingaporeHouthi crewUnharmed
12 January 2024KhalissaPanamaHouthi projectileUnknown
15 January 2024Gibraltar EagleMarshall IslandsHouthi anti-ship missileMinor damage
16 January 2024ZografiaMaltaBallistic missileMinor damage
17 January 2024Genco PicardyMarshall IslandsHouthi droneMinor damage
18 January 2024Chem RangerMarshall IslandsHouthi anti-ship ballistic missileUnharmed
22 January 2024Ocean JazzUnited StatesHouthisUnknown
24 January 2024Maersk DetroitUnited StatesHouthi missileUnharmed
24 January 2024Maersk ChesapeakeUnited StatesHouthi missileUnharmed
26 January 2024Marlin LuandaMarshall IslandsHouthi missileSet afire
28 January 2024USS Lewis B. PullerUnited StatesHouthi missile (Houthi claim)Unknown
30 January 2024KoiLiberiaHouthi naval missilesUnknown
6 February 2024Morning TideBarbadosHouthisMinor damage
6 February 2024Star NasiaMarshall IslandsHouthisMinor damage
12 February 2024Star IrisMarshall IslandsHouthi missilesMinor damage
16 February 2024PolluxPanamaHouthi missileMinor damage
18 February 2024RubymarBelizeHouthi anti-ship missileSunk
19 February 2024Sea ChampionGreeceHouthi naval missilesMinor damage
19 February 2024Navis FortunaMarshall IslandsHouthi naval missileMinor damage
22 February 2024IslanderPalauHouthi missileDamaged
6 March 2024True ConfidenceBarbadosHouthi anti-ship missileSet afire
8 March 2024Propel FortuneSingaporeHouthi anti-ship missilesUnknown
24 March 2024Huang PuPanamaHouthi anti-ship ballistic missileUnknown
7 April 2024Hope IslandMarshall IslandsHouthisUnknown
7 April 2024MSC GracePanamaHouthisUnknown
7 April 2024MSC GinaPanamaHouthisUnknown
9 April 2024Maersk YorktownUnited StatesHouthi anti-ship missileUnharmed
9 April 2024MSC GinaPanamaHouthisUnknown
9 April 2024MSC Darwin VILiberiaHouthisUnknown
24 April 2024Maersk YorktownUnited StatesHouthi missileUnharmed
24 April 2024MSC VeracruzPortugalHouthi anti-ship ballistic missileUnknown
26 April 2024Andromeda StarPanamaHouthi missilesMinor damage
26 April 2024MaishaAntigua and BarbudaHouthi missileUnharmed
29 April 2024CycladesMaltaHouthi missiles and UAVsMinor damage
29 April 2024MSC OrionPortugalHouthi dronesMinor damage
18 May 2024WindPanamaHouthi missilesMinor damage
23 May 2024YannisMaltaHouthi missilesUnharmed
23 May 2024EssexLiberiaHouthi missilesUnharmed
28 May 2024LaaxMarshall IslandsHouthi missilesDamaged
1 June 2024AblianiMaltaHouthi drones and rocketsUnharmed
1 June 2024MainaMaltaHouthi anti-ballistic missiles and armed dronesUnharmed
1 June 2024Al OraiqMarshall IslandsHouthi anti-ballistic missiles and armed dronesUnharmed
8-9 June 2024NorderneyAntigua and BarbudaHouthi missilesSet afire
8 June 2024MSC TavivshiLiberiaHouthi ballistic missileSet afire
9 June 2024UnknownUnknownHouthi ballistic missileDamaged
12 June 2024MV TutorLiberiaHouthi Toufan-1 USV, ballistic missiles, dronesSunk
13 June 2024VerbenaPalauHouthi cruise missilesSet afire
13 June 2024UnknownUnknownUnknown Houthi weaponsUnharmed
16 June 2024UnknownUnknownUnknownUnharmed
21 June 2024Transworld NavigatorLiberiaHouthi ballistic missilesUnharmed
23 June 2024Transworld NavigatorLiberiaHouthi USVDamaged
24 June 2024MSC Sarah VLiberiaHouthi Hatem 2 hypersonic missileUnharmed
26 June 2024UnknownUnknownHouthi missileUnharmed
27 June 2024UnknownUnknownLikely Houthi USVUnharmed
28 June 2024DelonixLiberiaHouthi ballistic missilesUnharmed

APPENDIX 3 – Timeline of Significant Events

DateEvent
November 2023
14-November Numerous missile attacks by Houthis aimed at Eilat, Israel; intercepted by Israeli defenses
15-November USS Thomas Hudner shot down a drone fired from Yemen
22-November Houthi cruise missile aimed at Eilat was shot down by an F-35
23-November USS Thomas Hudner intercepted several attack drones launched by Houthis
29-November USS Carney shot down a Houthi KAS-04 drone near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait
30-November Reports of Israeli airstrike causing explosion at Houthi arms depot in Sana’a; Houthis claimed a gas station was hit instead
December 2023
6 DecemberHouthis launched ballistic missiles at Israeli military posts in Eilat; USS Mason shot down a drone from Yemen
10 DecemberFrench Navy frigate Languedoc intercepted two drones from Hodeida, Yemen
11 DecemberNorwegian oil tanker Strinda attacked, causing a fire; French Navy intervened
14 DecemberIndia initiated Operation Sankalp for regional maritime security
21 DecemberPort of Eilat saw an 85% drop in activity due to Houthi actions
26 DecemberMultiple drone and missile attacks by Houthis on Eilat and other Israeli targets; US and Israeli defenses intercepted all threats
January 2024
4 January Houthis launched a USV towards US Navy vessels; it detonated far from the target
7 January Houthi retaliatory attacks against US Navy vessels; Pakistani Navy deployed frigates in response
10 January Large-scale Houthi attack on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and other vessels, involving 21 UAVs and missiles
11 January US Navy SEALs raided a ship carrying Iranian weapons for Houthis; two SEALs declared dead after search
12 January US and UK conducted airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, marking the first such strikes since the Red Sea crisis began
14 January Houthis fired an anti-ship cruise missile from Hodeida towards USS Laboon; intercepted by a fighter jet
16 January US struck four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles being prepared for launch
22 January US and UK conducted airstrikes on eight Houthi targets near Sanaa airport
24 January French frigate Alsace joined defense operations in the Red Sea
26-27 January French frigate Alsace and US destroyers aided an oil tanker on fire in the Gulf of Aden caused by a missile from Yemen
29 January Danish frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt departed for the Red Sea to assist US-led coalition
31 January EU announced plans for a naval mission to protect merchant shipping in the Red Sea within three weeks
February 2024
02-february Houthis claimed they fired a ballistic missile towards Eilat; intercepted by Arrow defense system
03-february US and UK strikes on 36 Houthi sites across Yemen
08-february German frigate Hessen deployed to the Red Sea for EU mission
10-february Houthi media listed 17 fighters killed during US-UK strikes
15-february US Coast Guard seized a vessel with advanced weapons from Iran bound for Houthis
19-february Launch of Operation Aspides, the EU naval mission to protect shipping in the Red Sea
20-february France shot down two Houthi UAVs; CENTCOM announced interception of 10 drones and a cruise missile targeting USS Laboon
22-february Houthis launched drones and ballistic missiles targeting Eilat and an American destroyer; none struck their targets
24-february US and UK conducted airstrikes on 18 Houthi targets across eight locations
26-february Damage to Red Sea undersea communication cables reported; linked to Houthi attacks
27-february German frigate Hessen intercepted two Houthi drones targeting the vessel
March 2024
02-March Italian destroyer Caio Duilio shot down a Houthi missile over the Red Sea
04-March INS Kolkata responded to an attack on MSC Sky II in the Gulf of Aden
08-March Finland and the Netherlands announced their participation in EU and US-led operations in the Red Sea
11-March US and UK conducted 17 airstrikes against Houthi-controlled port cities and towns in Western Yemen
12-March Italian destroyer Duilio shot down two Houthi drones in self-defense
18-March Houthis launched a cruise missile that struck Israel, reportedly hitting an open area north of Eilat
20-March French FREMM Alsace helicopter destroyed a Houthi UAV flying towards commercial vessels over the southern Red Sea
21-March German frigate Hessen’s helicopter destroyed a Houthi seaborne drone in the Red Sea; French FREMM Alsace destroyed three Houthi ballistic missiles
27-March US Navy shot down four Houthi UAVs targeting warships in the Red Sea
28-March Russian warships, including the cruiser Varyag, entered the Red Sea following a political deal with Houthis
April 2024
03-aprilDanish chief of defense was fired after failing to report flaws in air defenses and weapons systems aboard the Ivar Huitfeldt frigate
09-aprilIDF used a seaborne missile from the INS Magen to shoot down a UAV from the Red Sea
10-aprilUS military destroyed eleven Houthi drones posing a threat to US, coalition, and merchant vessels
13-aprilHouthis and Iran coordinated drone attacks on Israel; likely targeting Israeli ports
18-aprilIranian spy ship MV Behshad suspected of assisting Houthis started sailing towards Bandar Abbas
25-aprilGreek frigate intercepted two Houthi drones in the Red Sea
26-aprilHouthis claimed to have shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone off the coast of Yemen
May 2024
1 MayHouthi attacks on commercial vessels increased; 40 vessels attacked by February 2024
7 MayUSS Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to the Red Sea after a port call in Crete
10 MayCoalition warplane intercepted a Houthi drone over the Gulf of Aden; three more drones intercepted over the Red Sea the next day
21 MayHouthis claimed to have shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone in Al Bayda Governorate
29 MayHouthis claimed to have shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone over Marib province
0 MayUS and UK conducted strikes on 13 Houthi targets across Yemen, killing 16 people and injuring 35
June 2024
6 JuneHouthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed coordinated attacks on Haifa; Israel denied the claims
7 JuneHouthis claimed to have targeted the container ship Elbella and the cargo ship AAL GENOA in the Red Sea with ballistic and naval missiles as well as drones; no independent confirmation
8 JuneHouthi anti-ship ballistic missiles targeted the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship Norderney and the Liberian-flagged container ship MSC Tavvishi in the Gulf of Aden, causing minor damage and a small fire on Norderney
12 JuneHouthis struck the Liberian-flagged cargo ship Tutor twice in the Red Sea near Al Hudaydah using ballistic missiles, drones, and a USV. The ship began to take on water and was abandoned by the crew. One crew member was reported missing
13 JuneHouthis launched two cruise missiles at the Palauan-flagged bulk cargo carrier M/V Verbena in the Gulf of Aden, causing damage and fires on board. An American sailor was severely injured
16 JuneHouthis claimed to have targeted the ships Captain Paris and Happy Condor with missiles and drones, respectively. An unidentified vessel reported explosions near it without suffering damage or casualties
18 JunePalauan-flagged LNG carrier Asya Energy sailed through the Red Sea without incident, marking the first successful transit by an LNG carrier since January 2024
21 JuneUKMTO and the Joint Maritime Information Center reported that a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden was targeted by the Houthis with ballistic missiles; no casualties or damage reported
22 JuneHouthis claimed to have targeted the Transworld Navigator again using a USV in the Red Sea, causing minor injuries and moderate damage to the ship
24 JuneLiberian-flagged container ship MSC Sarah V reported a missile attack near it in the Arabian Sea; no damage or injuries reported
26 JuneHouthis claimed to have targeted the Portuguese-flagged container ship MSC Manzanillo docked in Haifa with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq; IDF denied the claim
28 JuneLiberian-flagged oil tanker Delonix was targeted by five missiles northwest of Al Hudaydah but escaped unharmed; Houthis claimed it took a direct hit. Also claimed to have targeted the bulk carrier Ioannis in the Red Sea and the oil tanker Waler and container ship Johannes Maersk in the Mediterranean Sea
July 2024
1 JulyHouthis claimed to have targeted the Delonix in the Red Sea, MSC Unific in the Arabian Sea, the British sealift ship Anvil Point in the Indian Ocean, and the Lucky Sailor in the Mediterranean Sea; no confirmation
3 JulyHouthis targeted the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Gravely, and three commercial vessels on 1 June. The US Central Command confirmed the attacks, adding that no casualties or damage were reported
6 JulyHouthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed to have launched two coordinated attacks on Haifa; Israel denied the claims. Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi announced the introduction of “submarine weapons”
8 JulyThe Houthis targeted the Danish frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt in the Red Sea, leading to the discovery of flaws in the ship’s air defenses and weapons systems
Impact on Global Trade
OngoingTrade Disruption: Houthi attacks have significantly disrupted trade through the Red Sea, leading to a rerouting of vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, increasing transit times and costs
OngoingImpact on Suez Canal Traffic: The number of container ships transiting through the Red Sea dropped by 90% between December 2023 and February 2024. Companies like Maersk and MSC have resumed sending ships through the Red Sea, though attacks continue

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