Former Navy Commander on How To Stop the Houthis


SUBSCRIBER+ INTERVIEW — Almost from the first volley fired last fall by Houthi rebels at vessels in the Red Sea, the group has surprised observers with its outsized impact as a destabilizing force in the region. The fact that the Houthis joined other Iran-backed proxies in lashing out in response to Israel’s war in Gaza was expected; the scale of their impact was not. And while the Houthis – a political movement and a heavily armed militia group based in Yemen – said they were fighting in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, their strikes have done little to punish Israel and much to damage global commerce.

Between November 2023 and March 2024, the Houthis attacked commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea more than 60 times. On February 18, Houthis launched missiles and a submarine drone at the British-owned, Belize-flagged ship Rubymar. The crew abandoned the vessel, which sank 11 days later, making it the first ship attacked by the Houthis to be abandoned and sunk. On March 6, a Houthi missile hit the Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned True Confidence. Three crew members were killed, making it the first fatal attack in the Houthis’ campaign.

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