Can you provide information about the Houthi rebels? What are the key facts to understand about these Yemeni militants who are targeting ships in the Red Sea?

Can you provide information about the Houthi rebels? What are the key facts to understand about these Yemeni militants who are targeting ships in the Red Sea?

Over the past few weeks, Houthi insurgents in Yemen have been carrying out drone and rocket strikes on ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a crucial waterway linking the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Here is an overview of the Houthis, how they gained significant military strength despite not being officially recognized, and their motives for targeting this important trade route.

Who make up the Houthi rebels and what is their estimated number?

The Houthis are a Shiite Muslim sect with roots that date back centuries in Yemen. Members of the religion are a minority in Yemen, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, but they are a significant one, numbering in the hundreds of thousands and making up as much as a third of the overall population.

Although they were a minority in the country, the Houthi rebels, who were only a few thousand in number in 2012, were able to take advantage of the turmoil in Yemen to gain a devoted following in the northern region. This led to their capture of the capital city of Sanaa in 2014, which ignited a conflict with the government that was backed by Western and Saudi forces.

A November 24, 2021, file photo shows Houthi fighters attending the funeral of fellow rebel fighters killed in fighting with forces of Yemen's internationally recognized government, in Sanaa, Yemen.

On November 24, 2021, a photo was taken of Houthi fighters participating in a funeral for rebel fighters who died during clashes with Yemen’s government forces in Sanaa, Yemen.

AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

That the beginning

The war has persisted since its inception.

According to a 2017 article in the Yemen Post, the rebel militia and self-proclaimed government of Yemen has grown to approximately 100,000 individuals, despite frequent cease-fires with limited success.

In 2021, the United States acknowledged the Houthi rebels as a legitimate group in Yemen’s violent civil war and recognized that both parties involved are accountable for the continuing turmoil.

Tim Lenderking’s statements were a direct invitation to the Houthi rebels.

Lenderking stated that it is impossible to simply ignore or resolve the conflict, therefore it is important to address the current situation. He also mentioned that based on his observations, the Houthis have expressed a desire for peace in Yemen and there are individuals within their leadership who support this.

Despite the overture, Yemen was not able to achieve peace. Additionally, following Hamas’ violent terror attack against Israel on October 7th, the situation remained unresolved.sparked the war

In Gaza, Hamas’ customary supporters – such as the Houthis and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran like Hamas – have pledged to support the Palestinian fighters.

The Houthis, together with Hezbollah and Hamas, form a loosely defined coalition known as “the axis of resistance” which Iran sees as opposing Israel. All of these groups, like Iran, challenge or deny Israel’s sovereignty and have frequently clashed with the United States, a strong ally of Israel.

What is the reason for the Houthis’ attacks on ships in the Red Sea?

The Houthi rebels announced that they are conducting “naval operations” in order to aid the Palestinian population in their fight against the aggression and blockade in Gaza. According to a statement made on social media by a spokesperson, the group does not view their actions in the Red Sea as a display of power or a provocation towards anyone.

The Houthi insurgents, possessing a substantial amount of ballistic missiles and drones made by Iran, assert their intention to attack vessels owned by Israel or its allies. American naval ships in the area have successfully intercepted an increasing number of drones launched from Yemen in the past few days, with over twelve being taken down on December 16 alone.

The Houthis launch daily attacks on ships in the Red Sea and U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria.

Several ships have been struck, however numerous rockets and drones originating from Yemen do not successfully reach their designated objectives. It is frequently uncertain what those objectives were before the weapons are eliminated.

In 2017, the U.S. government approximated that nearly 10% of the world’s seaborne petroleum products and various other goods were transported through the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The potential consequences of any potential danger to shipping in this region are significant.

There has been a notable impact already.

Interfering with the operations of major maritime shipping companies and oil corporations worldwide.

What does Operation Prosperity Guardian entail?

On December 18, during a visit to Israel, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin revealed a fresh collaborative military mission designed to tackle “security obstacles in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, with the objective of guaranteeing unrestricted navigation for all nations and strengthening regional security and prosperity.”

Austin announced that Operation Prosperity Guardian would involve the participation of at least seven countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and various European Union allies, as well as Bahrain and Canada. The primary objective of this operation is to provide military support in monitoring the crucial sea routes near Yemen and defending against any assaults from the Houthi-controlled region.

“These acts of aggression are irresponsible, hazardous, and they defy international regulations.”Austin said

While traveling in Israel, it was stated that the issue at hand is not limited to the United States but is a global problem that requires a global solution.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meet in Tel Aviv

In Tel Aviv, Israel, on December 18, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a meeting amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Reuters/Phil Stewart

The US armed forces are aiming to increase global involvement in the Guardian operation, which was established as part of the preexisting Combined Task Force 153 in 2022 and shares a similar mission.

“Since this is a voluntary alliance, each country will have the freedom to choose which aspects of the joint naval mission they will assist with,” stated Major General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, in a briefing last week. “We are currently in the process of determining which nations will join Task Force 153 and what specific abilities and forms of assistance they will contribute.”

This report was contributed to by CBS News’ Kathryn Watson in Washington.