DSince November 19, the Houthis have launched 27 drone and missile attacks against commercial ships, in retaliation for Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and targeting ships with ties to Israel.
The attacks in the Red Sea began after the conflict between Israel and Hamas began on October 7.
In November, the Houthis attacked an Israeli cargo ship. And since then, several commercial ships have been deployed with drones and ballistic missiles.
Attacks increased by 500% between November and December and the threats have been such that many shipping companies have decided to stop sailing in the region.
Who are the Houthis and why do they attack Red Sea ships?
The Houthis are a Yemeni armed group from the country’s Shiite Muslim minority, the Zaidis. It was formed in the 90s, to combat the corruption of the then president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh (1942-2017), and the movement’s name comes from its founder, Houssein al Houthi. The group also calls itself Ansar Allah (Partisans of God).
President Saleh, supported by the Saudi Arabian army, tried to eliminate the rebel group in 2003, but the Huthis managed to resist this attempt.
After the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Houthis adopted the slogan ‘God is great. Death to the United States. Death to Israel. Curse the Jews and victory for Islam’, which explains his current position against the country led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
The group claims to be part of the resistance axis, which is led by Iran, and includes Hamas and Hezbollah, against Israel, the USA and the West. This explains why they attack ships heading to Israel in the Persian Gulf, says Hisham Al-Omeisy, a Yemen expert at the European Institute of Peace, to the BBC.
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