An F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. US Navy Photo posted on December 17, 2023

Houthis Warn Maritime Coalition: Red Sea Will Be Your Graveyard

Tuesday, 12/19/2023

Iran-backed Houthis threatened on Tuesday to ‘sink’ US warships, hours after Washington launched a multinational force to protect vessels transiting the Red Sea.

“We have capabilities to sink your fleet, your submarines, your warships,” a top Houthi official said, according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency. “The Red Sea will be your graveyard.”

The new maritime coalition includes Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, Seychelles and Bahrain. It has been formed in response to Houthi attacks on commercial vessels passing through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea, transiting between Asia and Europe through the Suez Canal.

In the past few days, half a dozen shipping companies, including four of the biggest five, have ceased operations on this route, citing security concerns for their assets and their personnel.

“This is an international challenge that demands collective action,” US defense secretary Lloyd Austin while in Bahrain on his tour of the Middle East. “Therefore today I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative.”

It is not clear how this naval force seeks to stop Houthis from launching Iranian drones and missiles at vessels transiting the Red Sea. The naval force can only shoot down missiles and drones fired by the Houthis, but short of a military response, the Iranian proxy force can continue to disrupt shipping.

What is known is that some countries will conduct joint patrols, while others provide intelligence support in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Several other countries have also agreed to be involved without being named, according to Associated Press. Nevertheless, the Biden administration would have a hard time selling it as a victory, since of the many Arab (and Red Sea) states only Bahrain has agreed to join the coalition. The Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, seem to fear the consequences of being seen as siding with the Israelis and the Americans.

The Biden administration has so far refrained from striking back at the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. In his press conference Monday, Secretary Austin refused to answer a question as to why the Pentagon had not conducted a counterstrike.

Biden critics say his soft Iran policy is to blame for emboldening not only the regime in Tehran, but its proxies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

“This is beyond ridiculous,” said Senator Dan Sullivan in a thread posted on X, “as part of the Biden administration’s day-one appeasement strategy toward Iran, they delisted the Houthis, an Iranian terror proxy, as a foreign terrorist organization… Now, hardly a day goes by without another headline about the Houthis striking commercial vessels in the region.”

Last weekend, IRGC’s commander-in-chief taunted Americans, claiming that they’d leave the region soon.

“The US and Israel are reliving their bitter experiences,” said Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami. “Did they find victory in their occupation of Afghanistan? Were they able to stay in Iraq after its occupation? They are gradually packing up to leave this land.”

The Biden administration has asked the UN Security Council to intervene in order to stop Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. In a letter to council members US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the attacks on commercial ships threaten “international maritime security and international commerce.”

On Monday, oil giant BP announced that it will pause all shipments of oil through the Red Sea due to “deteriorating security situation” in the region. This could turn into a major headache for world’s big economies, if other oil companies were to follow BP.

“Biden’s failure to respond to Iran-backed militia attacks on shipping is going to start hitting Americans' pocket books,” wrote Senator Ted Budd on X.

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