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Yemen’s Houthi rebels issue warning to Israel, US amid escalating tensions

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels, aligned with Iran, have issued a stern warning to Israel, the United States, and Western allies, cautioning against any aggressive actions toward Yemen. The rebels, who control a significant portion of Yemen but lack international recognition, have intensified attacks on crucial waterways in an effort to pressure Israel in its conflict with the Palestinian armed group Hamas.

Ali al-Qahoum, a member of the Houthi’s Ansarullah politburo, stated in an interview with Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV that Yemen is prepared to employ various defensive measures in response to potential military moves by the US, Israel, or other Western powers. Al-Qahoum emphasized the Houthis’ commitment to the Palestinian cause and vowed to continue operations against Israel.

The warning coincides with major shipping companies, including Danish firm Maersk and German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd, announcing a suspension of vessel passages through the Red Sea due to Houthi attacks on vessels. The Houthis have claimed responsibility for these attacks, asserting that they will persist until essential supplies for Gaza reach their destination.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, speaking in Tel Aviv, accused Iran of arming the Houthis, claiming that while the rebels are carrying out attacks, they are essentially “being handed the gun by Iran.” Sullivan expressed concerns about the impact of Houthi actions on freedom of movement in the Red Sea, a crucial route for global oil and goods shipments.

Approximately 40 percent of international trade passes through the Red Sea, affecting Israel’s ports, the Suez Canal, and vital shipping routes. Recent Houthi activities have led to a surge in insurance costs for ships transiting the area, particularly impacting larger vessels such as oil tankers. Warships from the US, UK, and France are patrolling the region, responding to Houthi-launched missiles.

In a separate incident, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the United Kingdom’s HMS Diamond intercepted a suspected attack drone targeting merchant shipping in the Red Sea, using a Sea Viper missile. Sullivan, in a press conference in Israel, highlighted ongoing efforts by the United States to collaborate with the international community and regional partners to address the escalating threats posed by the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

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