Ten countries are starting a joint operation for the safety of maritime traffic in the Red Sea

Anna Kholodnova

The United States has announced the start of a joint operation of ten countries for the safety of maritime traffic in the Red Sea against the background of attacks by the Yemeni Houthis on tankers and ships.

This was stated by Defense Minister Lloyd Austin.

In addition to the USA, Great Britain, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain are participating in the operation.

Several major international shipping companies have announced that they will suspend the use of the Red Sea for shipping due to security threats.

The Yemeni Houthis have already responded to the start of the US and allied operation. They will continue their attacks on ships and threaten "consequences for those who seek to expand the conflict."

What is happening in the Red Sea

In the Red Sea, since November, attacks by the Yemeni Houthis on merchant ships, which allegedly have connections with Israel, have been ongoing. The group supports Hamas in its war with Israel.

First, the Houthis seized the cargo ship Galaxy Leader and took up to 25 people hostage. At the end of November, there was an unsuccessful attempt to capture the Central Park tanker. The destroyer USS Mason came to the rescue and the attackers were detained.

In December, the Houthis began to attack with missiles and drones both merchant ships and US and French warships. After that, near the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which connects the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean, an anti-ship missile hit the chemical tanker STRINDA, which was sailing under the Norwegian flag. The missile was fired from Yemen, which is controlled by the Iranian proxy group Ansar Allah. The Houthis later attacked two ships: the container ship Al-Jasra, which was sailing under the flag of Liberia from Greece to Singapore, and the container ship MSC Palatium III, also under the flag of Liberia. On December 16, the destroyer of the Royal Navy of Great Britain HMS Diamond shot down a suspected drone that targeted a merchant ship in the Red Sea with a Sea Viper missile.

Due to security risks for the worldʼs largest container carrier, Denmarkʼs Maersk has suspended all transportation through the Red Sea. Oil giant BP has also suspended all supplies across the Red Sea. The German transport company Hapag-Lloyd announced the same move. Now the path of their ships will be longer and more difficult, since they will have to pass through the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa instead of the Bab el Mandeb Strait.