The situation in the Red Sea has further intensified, with no signs of de-escalation. The defensive measures taken by the US and its allies to neutralize the impact of Houthi attacks on ship movements in this crucial trade artery have proven ineffective, prompting a shift to an offensive stance.
In response, US and British forces conducted overnight strikes on military sites in Yemen, aiming to weaken the Houthi group's military capabilities. Despite this strong message, the Houthis declared their intention to retaliate for the 73 airstrikes that resulted in the death of five of their fighters, vowing to continue their attacks in support of Palestine.
Despite the Houthis' refusal to change course, it is unlikely that the US and its allies will initiate a full-scale and prolonged military campaign against the militant group. This reluctance is rooted in the limitations associated with military actions against the group and the various risks such measures pose to the US and the region.
Read more: US options to counter growing Houthi threat
In response to Israel's war on Gaza, the Houthis have been actively targeting commercial vessels associated with Tel Aviv in the Red Sea since late October, utilizing drones, fast boats, land attack cruise missiles, and notably, anti-ship ballistic missiles, a first in global incidents of this nature. Subsequently, several major international shipping companies have halted operations in the Red Sea region, extending voyage durations, causing delays and increasing costs.
Until recently, the response from the US and its allies to these attacks was reactive, primarily involving intercepting Houthi missiles as they approach by Western military vessels positioned in the Red Sea. However, these defensive measures failed to dissuade major freight companies from suspending operations in this crucial trade artery for the foreseeable future. Subsequently, the US, along with other nations, issued a final warning to the Houthis, demanding that they cease their attacks or face the consequences.