American Warship Intercepts Drone and Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile, Houthis Defiant Amid Rising Tensions
In a dramatic turn of events, the U.S. Navy announced the successful interception of a drone and an anti-ship ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militias in the Southern Red Sea. The USS MASON (DDG 87) deployed defensive measures, averting potential harm to the 18 ships in the area during the attack, which took place between 5:45 – 6:10 p.m. (Sanaa time) on Dec. 28.
This marks the 22nd attempted attack by the Houthis on international shipping since Oct. 19, posing a significant threat to the vital Red Sea shipping lane responsible for up to 12 percent of global trade.
In response to the escalating danger, the United States recently established a multinational naval task force to safeguard Red Sea shipping, highlighting the urgency of protecting this critical transit route.
Apart from the military response, the U.S. Treasury Department has taken economic measures, imposing sanctions on a network involved in financing Houthi attacks. The sanctions target the head of the Currency Exchangers Association in Sanaa, Yemen, and three exchanges in Yemen and Türkiye accused of facilitating Iranian financial assistance to the Houthis.
The Houthi militias, supported by Iran, claim their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, asserting that they target Israeli and Israeli-linked vessels to protest the offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Despite international condemnation, the Houthis remain defiant. The defense minister in their unrecognized government, Mohammed al-Atefi, asserted that the militias “don’t recognize red lines” and boasted about possessing weapons with “unexpected” ranges.
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam issued a warning, stating that the Red Sea could turn into a battlefield after the U.S. Navy’s interception of a Houthi drone. Abdulsalam justified the attacks on vessels, accusing the U.S. and its allies of militarizing the region solely to protect Israeli interests.
Tensions in the region have been exacerbated by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, prompting a surge in attacks by various armed groups opposed to Israel. The U.S. military, stationed in Iraq and Syria, has also faced drone and rocket attacks attributed to Iran-backed armed groups.
As the situation unfolds, the international community closely watches the developments in the Red Sea, emphasizing the need for diplomatic solutions to prevent further escalation.