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Yemen's Houthi Rebels Target Vessels Along Key Global Shipping Lane

This week, defence specialists from Universal Defence and Security Solutions spoke with Reuters' senior journalist Jonathan Saul about how Houthi militants in Yemen are attacking ships in one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.

"When the Houthis seized Sanaa in 2014, ousting the Saudi-backed government, they also inherited military equipment and staff with know-how from the previous government, notably short-range ballistic missiles as well as surface-to-surface and cruise missiles, some deployed on patrol craft. Their new Iranian-made weapons include Qasef-1 and Qasef-2K reconnaissance and attack drones, said the specialist, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. While cheap and basic, these drones have a 50-60 mile range with a small warhead of around 30-40 kgs. Other drones included the Sammad 1, 2 and 3, which are similar to the Qasef with a longer range of around 300 miles and smaller 18 kg warheads".

Read the full Reuters article and analysis here.

In a series of escalating maritime assaults, Houthi militants, supported by Iran, have intensified their operations against international shipping in the Red Sea, leveraging an arsenal that includes ballistic missiles and drones. These actions are part of their solidarity with Hamas amid the conflict in Gaza. The sequence of attacks initiated on November 19, when Houthi forces commandeered the Galaxy Leader cargo vessel, has since expanded to 29 more ships being targeted, disrupting a crucial trade route that handles 12% of global commerce.

The Houthis have executed these strikes from Yemen, employing sophisticated weaponry to challenge naval and commercial vessels, a strategy that has persisted despite Western military interventions. This campaign has severely impacted maritime operations in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab strait, a vital chokepoint for international trade. The Houthis' actions, aimed at pressuring Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza, have led to a significant military and economic response, highlighting the strategic importance of the region's maritime routes and the broader implications for global trade and security.

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