The British military is getting ready to launch operations in Yemen, where they will take direct action against the Houthis. Terrorist assaults by Islamists on international ships transiting through the Red Sea have caused mayhem and delays, prompting the United Kingdom to consider joining the United States in conducting direct strikes. While no final decisions have been taken, “preparation is ongoing,” according to reports, which state that the Kingdom is getting ready to conduct airstrikes in Yemen in coordination with the US.
The Houthis are a Shiite Islamist group from Yemen who have been relentlessly targeting ships ever after Hamas’s murderous terror strike on Israel last year. At least some of the ships that were targeted were initially associated with the UK. The Houthis have also launched ballistic missiles to intervene directly in the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Commercial ships’ insurance rates have risen “tenfold since early December,” according to British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, and many of the world’s major carriers are now avoiding the region entirely, adding expenses and delays to global commerce.
As Shapps pointed out, the Red Sea isn’t the only major maritime chokepoint on Earth; if the West shows signs of weakness, it might jeopardize seaborne commerce elsewhere.
The US has avoided escalating the crisis in the area and has talked about its desire to defend itself. John Kirby, the spokesperson for national security, said the U.S. was going to do what “we have to do to defend ships.” There was a lack of specifics given.
Only one Royal Navy cruiser has fitted the weapon packs so far, but more are scheduled to get the new Norwegian-designed land assault Naval Strike Missile this year. This leaves the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoons equipped with Storm Shadow Missiles. However, given that their base is located in Akrotiri, Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, nearly 1,500 miles away from Yemen, it is uncertain what kind of sustained pressure they could exert without operating from a forward position, similar to Al Musannah in Oman.