Houthi Rebels Claim Missile Attack on British Oil Tanker in the Red Sea

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group has asserted responsibility for a recent missile strike on a British oil tanker, the Pollux, in the Red Sea. The vessel, identified by the United States as a Panamanian-flagged tanker en route to India, was reportedly hit on its port side. The attack comes amid the ongoing conflict in the region, with Houthi rebels linking their actions to Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

The Biden administration’s recent reclassification of the Houthi group as a terrorist organization took effect on Friday, following a month-long ultimatum for the group to cease Red Sea navigation attacks and return to Yemen’s political process. Former US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, suggests that the new classification aims to limit the group’s funding and restrict their travel outside Yemen, without significantly impacting their military strength.

The Houthi attacks have led to increased insurance costs for shipping companies and disrupted global trade through the Red Sea, a vital route handling 12% of global maritime trade. In response, a multinational coalition, including the US and UK, launched Operation Prosperity Guardian, deploying airstrikes and missile strikes against Houthi targets. Maritime patrols have also been initiated to protect ships passing through the Red Sea.

The latest attack on the British oil tanker has prompted retaliation by the US and Britain. The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported the incident, stating that the vessel sustained minor damage, and the crew is safe.

The Houthi rebels have persistently targeted international commercial shipping since mid-November, justifying their actions as solidarity with Palestinians during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The EU is set to launch a naval mission to protect international shipping in the Red Sea against Houthi attacks. The situation remains tense, with geopolitical implications, disruptions in global commerce, and heightened concerns about the broader regional conflict.

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