Over the past few weeks, Houthi has shot nearly daily ballistic missiles and suicide drones on ships in the Red Sea. Most of them were thwarted by Israel’s multi-layered air defense system or U.S. warships in the Red Sea. These actions from Houthi have violated international maritime law by seizing commercial ships sailing in the Red Sea, posing an immediate threat to international shipping and the international economy. The group has emerged as a major player in the Israel-Hamas war, which started on October 7 with a mass invasion by Hamas on Israelis.
“These attacks are clear examples of terrorism and a violation of international law and a major threat to lives, global commerce, and they jeopardize the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” a US senior administration official expressed.
It has been alleged that the group is receiving Iranian grants, weapons, and training, posing a growing threat to regional peace and global security.
According to the Alma Research and Education Center, originally a neglected group, the Houthis capitalized on the Arab Spring’s speed in the early 2010s to maintain their position. By the end of 2014, they had seized control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and by February 2015, they proclaimed control over the country. There are concerns that this power transformation was backed by Iranian influence and support from Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy, Hezbollah.
The Houthis have displayed significant military capabilities, especially in their use of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and armed unmanned aerial vehicles. These weapons have been deployed against different targets, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The group’s capability to launch long-range attacks underscores its growing strength and powerful weapons.
Yemen’s strategic position, including its authority over the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and closeness to the Red Sea, a crucial waterway for global commerce from Asia to Europe via Egypt’s Suez Canal, strengthens the Houthis’ potential influence on regional stability. The Suez Canal witnesses 50-60 vessels crossing each day, about 19,000 each year, comprising about 30% of global container traffic. Further, about 10 percent of global seaborne oil floats via this region.
Their forceful actions, such as launching missiles and bombarding and hijacking commercial vessels, highlight the group’s intent to extend its force beyond Yemen’s borders.
The Houthis intend to handle the region and frequently disrupt Yemen’s stability and neighboring nations’ security. They pose a significant challenge in the Middle East, getting backing from Iran and following an ideology that seeks to reshape the region through destruction and warfare. This expansionist policy has raised concerns about the broader implications for global stability.