Houthi rebels target Iran-bound shipping vessel
The U.S.-linked but Iran-bound shipping vessel Star Iris sustained minor damage on Monday while carrying corn from Brazil to Iran. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom the United States earlier this year redesignated as a terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the attack and said the ship had connections to the United States. Ishan Bhanu, lead agricultural commodities analyst at the global trade analysis firm Kpler, said on social media the ship likely traveled through the waters around Yemen because it thought its destination, Iran, would guarantee safe passage.
Why is it significant that this vessel was bound for Iran? The United States Defense Intelligence Agency this month published a report documenting details of how the Houthi rebels have received weapons and aid from Iran, and how those weapons and aid shipments have enabled the Houthis’ activities. The Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked ships in the waters around Yemen, as part of what it describes as an effort to hamper Israel’s war efforts in Gaza.
What are the United States and its allies doing about this? Late last year, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the United States and its allies would be conducting Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect shipping in the region. Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder days later said more than 20 countries had signed on to participate in the operation. Earlier this month, Austin said that the United States and Britain had engaged in joint airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, the latest of several attacks on Houthi targets.
Dig deeper: Read A.S. Ibrahim’s column in WORLD Opinions answering the question, “Who are the Houthis?”
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