Pentagon Announces Operation to Counter Houthi Attacks on Vessels in Vital Trading Corridor

NTD Video
By NTD Video
December 18, 2023News Clips

A host of nations are joining forces with the United States as part of a new security initiative to ensure safe naval passage through a critical trading route located in the Red Sea.

Over the last few weeks, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on commercial ships passing through the vital shipping corridor that separates Yemen from East Africa, leading to the Red Sea and Suez Canal in the north.

To counter the threat posed by the rebels, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in a Dec. 18 press statement a new multinational security initiative dubbed “Operation Prosperity Guardian.” The primary goal is to bring security, stability, and freedom of navigation to the vital sea passage for all countries. According to Mr. Austin, protecting commercial vessels passing through the area is an “international challenge that demands collective action” immediately.

“The recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners, and violates international law,” he said.

“The Red Sea is a critical waterway that has been essential to freedom of navigation and a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade,” Mr. Austin added.

The Pentagon chief said that Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, the Seychelles, and Spain would be joining the United States in Operation Prosperity Guardian. Several other countries have also agreed to be involved in the operation, with some conducting joint patrols and others providing intelligence support in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Shipping Companies Suspend Operations

During the ongoing attacks by Houthi rebels, ships have been targeted and attacked by ballistic missiles and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). As a result of the danger and damage to vessels, major shipping companies and oil firms have decided to suspend transit through the important Middle East trading route until further notice. An estimated 10 percent of the world’s trade passes through the area, and closing the shipping corridor could have huge effects worldwide.

In his press statement, Mr. Austin said that Operation Prosperity Guardian would be coordinated by the already existing Combined Task Force 153, which was set up in April 2022 to improve maritime security in the Red Sea.

“Countries that seek to uphold the foundational principle of freedom of navigation must come together to tackle the challenge posed by this non-state actor,” Mr. Austin said.

Following the recent attacks, the United States has called on the U.N. Security Council to take action against the rebels and its supporters like Iran. However, after a closed-door discussion on Monday, the 15 council members have taken no immediate action.

To date, the United States has not yet made any efforts to strike back at the Iranian-backed Houthis operating in Yemen or target any of the militants’ weapons or other sites either, which would further escalate tensions and U.S. presence in the region. This is despite several projectiles being launched in the direction of U.S. warships patrolling international waters.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Pentagon for further comment.

From The Epoch Times

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