Houthis strike commercial vessel, target French warship

The Iranian-backed Houthis struck a Norwegian-flagged tanker and launched drones at a French warship in the Red Sea. The Houthis have vowed to continue to attack all international ships that enter or leave Israeli ports.

On Dec. 11, the Houthis claimed credit for “a qualitative military operation against the Norwegian ship” Motor Tanker Strinda, “which was loaded with oil and headed to the Israeli entity. It was targeted with a suitable naval missile.”

U.S. Central Command confirmed the attack on the M/T Strinda, and stated that the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason assisted the Norwegian vessel after it was struck. CENTCOM said the attack was “assessed to have been an Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM) launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen while passing through the Bab-el-Mandeb,” the strait that links the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

One day prior, on Dec. 10, the Houthis launched two drones at the French Navy frigate Languedoc as it was patrolling in the Red Sea. The French Armies Ministry said that the drones “came straight at” the Languedoc, which shot down the aircraft.

The latest two attacks took place just one day after the Houthis vowed to attack all international ships that were entering or leaving Israeli ports.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces [the Houthi military] announce that they will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity [Israel] of any nationality, if they do not enter the Gaza Strip where they need food and medicine, and it will become a legitimate target for our armed forces,” according to a statement released by Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree. “Out of concern for the safety of maritime navigation, we warn all ships and companies against dealing with Israeli ports.”

The Houthis, as part of Iran’s Axis of Resistance, as well as Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, have been targeting U.S. forces to drive America from the region, as well as to support Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

The Houthis possess ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones, and have used all three weapons systems against commercial vessels and U.S. warships since Hamas launched its deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

The Houthis have a decade-long history of harassing and attacking commercial vessels operating in the Gulf of Aden, the Bab al Mandeb Strait, and the Red Sea, and have stepped up attacks on shipping and the U.S. military over the past month. The attacks include the hijacking of the Galaxy Leader, a drone attack on the CMA CGM Symi, an anti-ship ballistic missile attack on the USS Mason, a potential drone attack on the USS Carney, further attacks on the Unity Explorer, the Sophie II, and the USS Carney, and the destruction of a U.S. MQ-9 UAV.

The U.S. military has yet to respond to repeated attacks on U.S. warships and commercial vessels. The Biden administration fears an escalation of the conflict with the Houthis as well as Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria. The militias in Iraq and Syria have launched more than 80 attacks on U.S. forces, while the U.S. has launched only five counter-strikes.

Also known as Ansar Allah, the Houthis have seized control of significant areas in northern Yemen, including the capital of Sana’a, since it launched its rebellion in 2014. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps increasingly co-opted the Houthi movement since its formation in the 1990s. The IRGC has provided the Houthis with weapons, training, and financial support. Iran uses its network of militias and terrorist groups in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to put pressure on Israel as well as the United States.

The Houthis are estimated to have 100,000 fighters under arms. The official motto of the Houthis is: “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.”

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah. Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram