U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced Monday the beginning of a naval operation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden aimed at curbing disruptions to global maritime commerce caused by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The mission, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, also includes forces from the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain.
In a press release, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that the operation will be carried out “with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity.”
This new military action was announced in response to attacks on commercial shipping vessels by the Ansar Allah (commonly called Houthi) faction in Yemen.
Houthi leadership has repeatedly said that they will attack ships which they deem to be associated with Israel.
In a post on his X account on November 19, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree stated that the Yemeni Armed Forces would target ships that are “carrying the flag of the Zionist entity,” “operated by Israeli companies,” and “owned by Israeli companies.”
According to Saree, the Houthis will “continue to prevent the navigation of vessels heading to Israel until enough food and medicine are allowed into Gaza”.
The Houthi leadership has said that despite the heightened chance of a major conflict, they will continue to attack ships which are connected to Israel.
On Tuesday, Houthi official Mohammed Al-Bukaiti made a post on X (originally in Arabic) which read, “Even if America succeeds in mobilizing the entire world, our military operations will not stop unless the genocide crimes in Gaza stop and allow food, medicine, and fuel to enter its besieged population, no matter the sacrifice it costs us.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, several international shipping companies had announced that they would no longer send vessels through the Suez canal, an expensive re-routing process that could send the price of oil, and many other goods, skyrocketing.