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How Long Can the Houthis Hold Out?

There is no indication that the Houthis are preparing to halt their attacks on vessels traversing the Red Sea by the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and retaliatory attacks by U.S.-led forces have so far failed to quell the barrage. Since mid-November, the Houthis have attacked 30 vessels, just under half of them direct strikes. 

The Houthi aren’t willing to cease and desist right now because they don’t have to, and the Western response that has included attacks onshore has so far only served to lend the Houthis more credibility at home, which is exactly what they need and exactly what these attacks were all about in the first place (despite Houthi claims that this is all about supporting the Palestinians). 

According to Foreign Policy magazine, Egypt’s Suez Canal maritime trade has fallen by 42% in two months. Insurers are raising premiums. Ships are taking the longer and much more expensive route around the southern tip of Africa.

How long can the Houthis hold out? What does their arsenal look like, and what happens if the U.S. makes its response more severe? How long the Houthis can keep this up depends to a large extent on how much Iran is going to help.

Earlier this week, the DIA released a report detailing Iran’s involvement in weaponizing the Houthis (since 2014),  which suggests that the Houthis (for now) have enough of a guaranteed arsenal to continue the momentum of the attacks on vessels. Missiles being used…

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  • Peter Lawrie on February 10 2024 said:
    The author needs to put the Horn of Africa into google maps. It is directly opposite Yemen where the Houthi’s are. The ships are avoiding this area, not going around it to reach Europe.

    Cape Horn is in South America and is the southernmost point of that continent.

    Not so in Africa. Cape agulhas is the southern most point of Africa. It would be more accurate to say the ships are sailing round the southern Cape of Africa.

    A little geography goes a long way….

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