Who Are the Houthis and Why Are They Attacking Merchant Ships?

Who is Houthi? Why are they firing missiles at American ships? And what is the U.S. doing about it? Let’s dive right in. 

The Houthi movement, pronounced “Hoot-tee,” is known officially as Ansar Allah. They’re a Shia Islamist political and military organization that came out of Yemen in the 1990s. 

They’ve made no secret of the fact that they hate Israel and the United States. And recently they’ve become emboldened to strike at U.S. interests.

Protecting U.S. Vessels in the Red Sea 

Houthi terrorists, backed by Iran, recently fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles from Yemen. They were aimed at the U.S. flagged and owned M/V Maersk Detroit Commercial Container ship. As well as another vessel. 

The container ship, located in the Gulf of Aden in the Southern Red Sea, was protected by the USS Gravely. It’s an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.

The USS Gravely intercepted two of the three missiles. The third missile fell into the sea. Approximately 125 miles from its target. 

The U.S. container ship suffered no damage and there were no reported injuries. This marked the second and third U.S. ships targeted by Houthis in recent weeks. In January, two U.S.-owned merchant vessels were struck by Houthi ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial system attacks. 

Counterattacks Target Houthis’ Weapons 

Due to repeated attacks from Houthi terrorists, U.S. and U.K. ships and war planes have carried out numerous strikes against Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. 

They’ve been targeting the Al Dailami Air Base and missile launching sites. As well as weapon storage facilities where Houthis keep ballistic missiles and drones. 

The U.S. is using Tomahawk missiles fired from warships. Plus F-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier.            

According to American officials, missiles fired by the U.S. and its allies have removed “significant” Houthi capabilities. With more than a dozen sites targeted. 

Disrupting and Degrading Houthi Efforts 

Here’s a joint statement from the U.S., U.K., and other countries following the retaliatory strikes: 

“Today, the militaries of the United States and United Kingdom, at the direction of their respective governments with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted an additional round of proportionate and necessary strikes against eight Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the Houthis’ continued attacks against international and commercial shipping as well as naval vessels transiting the Red Sea.” 

The purpose of these “precision strikes” was to “disrupt and degrade” Houthi efforts to threaten global trade. And the lives of mariners. 

‘An International Challenge’ 

The joint statement continued with the message that the strikes targeted a Houthi underground storage site. As well as locations associated with the Houthis’ missile and air surveillance capabilities.

It also called the Houthis’ 30-plus attacks on international and commercial vessels since November “an international challenge.”

“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea,” the statement continued. 

“But let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership. We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.” 

Iran’s Fingerprints All Over Attacks

How does the U.S. know the Houthis are backed by Iran? We’re not privy to that information, of course.

But it’s notable that the Navy’s top Mideast commander, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, said that Iran is “very directly involved” in ship attacks carried out by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. 

Cooper said the attacks associated with Iran have been expanding beyond the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. These attacks are being called the most significant seen in two generations. And are said to be causing an international threat. 

The U.S. has also blamed Iran for recent drone attacks on shipping. Cooper said, “What I’ll say is Iran is clearly funding, they’re resourcing. They are supplying and they’re providing training. They’re obviously very directly involved. There’s no secret there.”

Will Supply Chain Issues Result?

During January, U.S. forces stopped a ship bound for Yemen in a raid in which two Navy SEALS were killed. The raid seized Iranian-made missile parts and other weaponry.

The Navy is aided by drones watching over some 10,000 miles of Mideast waters that normally would not be visible. Most are on the lookout for drug and weapons shipments. 

Houthis have claimed their attacks are in response to the Israel-Hamas war. But they’ve targeted vessels that have little or nothing to do with Israel.

Although Egypt has not been a target, it is suffering financially due to the Houthis’ attacks. Some ships are taking a longer route around Africa’s southern tip to avoid Houthi missiles. That means less revenue for Egypt, which charges vessels to go through the Suez Canal.

Obviously, the Houthis are no match for U.S. military power. But with weapons aid from Iran, they may continue to disrupt shipping. And that means supply chain problems and higher prices of goods for the world. Including America.


  • Patricia Curtis - February 25, 2024

    Thank you for the recent email which provided some facts regarding the U.S., U.K., and Netherlands attacks against Houthi sites in Yemen. The message was to warn about possible future supply chain disruptions due to Houthi attacks against commercial shipping.

    It has always been a good idea to prepare for possible disasters beforehand. Disaster can come from political or social upheaval, weather, internal and external supply chain disruptions, and pandemics. It is not wise to put it off any longer. If not now, when?

    4Patriots provides many products that we can use to prepare for survival, should it become necessary. The company could provide these products at a premium high price. Instead, the company consistently offers some great deals for its customers. Bravo 4Patriots!

  • Gerry - February 25, 2024

    Great article about ships being attacked in the Red Sea and who is responsible for these attacks. However, these continued attacks make me wonder how effective/on target the U.S and Great Britain response[s] is.

  • Marilyn Overly - February 22, 2024

    Thank you for an honest news report!

  • Jack Stone - February 22, 2024

    I think we need to understand that Israel’s present genocidal war against its captive Palestinian population vastly exceeds a proportionate response to the October 7 Hamas attack. The Houthis are disrupting western trade in general, as it is American and European support for Israel that enables the tiny state to carry on its criminal campaigns. Support to Houthis from Iran adds to the American neocon lust to attack Iran directly, which would be a massive error, however likely. American dependence on and control of ME oil is an underlying cause of perpetual friction in the region, along with ancient religious and cultural clashes. I certainly do not in any way “support” the Houthis or Iran, but we need to penetrate our own nation’s propaganda to get a more balanced picture of the situation.

  • Sally Garber - February 22, 2024

    Are you invested in the Military Industrial Complex in Any WAY, SHAPE or FORM? I get the IDEA That You Just Might BE!
    I’m TOTALLY AGAINST “FOREVER WARS”! And YES, I Believe we Should Be Prepared For OUTAGES (like the Notice I Got TODAY Saying That MANY AT&T Phones and SOME Others are DOWN!!).

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