Houthi threats on both sides of the Bab al-Mandab Strait: Military and Security Repercussions

Abstract

In the final quarter of 2023, the Houthi group in Yemen intensified its aggressive actions, launching missile attacks and deploying unmanned suicide drones in the Eilat (Umm al-Rashrash) region. It heightened its threats in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, purportedly targeting commercial ships allegedly affiliated with the Israeli government. The Houthi claims connect these actions to Israel’s alleged war of genocide in the Gaza Strip, initiated during the Al-Aqsa Flood operation by Hamas on October 7, 2023. Adding to the tension, on November 19, the “Galaxy Leader” ship, flying the Bahamas flag, was hijacked and brought to the port of Saleef.

Despite these provocations, Israeli and American responses remain relatively subdued, leaving anticipation for potential escalations, including the possibility of resorting to counter-violence. Such a course of action could have widespread consequences on both sides of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, potentially undermining existing local and regional security structures in the face of escalating threats. Additionally, non-traditional actors in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as organized crime groups engaged in activities, such as maritime piracy and smuggling of weapons, drugs and people, are further complicating the security landscape.

This paper aims to delve into the military and security ramifications of the Houthi threats on both sides of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, focusing on their recent hostile activities during the ongoing Gaza conflict. The discussion revolves around three key questions:

  1. What are the specific threats posed by the Houthis on both sides of the Bab al-Mandab Strait?
  2. What variables and motives surround these threats?
  3. What are the emerging military and security repercussions on both sides of the strait?click to download the article

 

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