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Iran-Backed Houthis Strike 4 Ships: Indian Ocean, Red Sea Hit

Photo : Reuters

In a recent development, Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for launching a drone attack on the Portugal-flagged MSC Orion container ship while it was navigating through the Indian Ocean. The targeted vessel was en route between the ports of Sines, Portugal, and Salalah, Oman. According to data from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), the MSC Orion is registered under the ownership of Zodiac Maritime.

Zodiac Maritime, a shipping company, has ties to Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer. However, the company has not yet responded to requests for comments regarding the attack on its vessel.

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This incident is part of a series of attacks orchestrated by Iran-aligned Houthi militants in strategic maritime regions including the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden since November. These attacks have forced international shippers to seek alternative routes, leading to longer and more expensive voyages, particularly around Southern Africa. The Houthis have stated that these actions are in solidarity with Palestinians, opposing Israel's military operations in Gaza.

Furthermore, Houthi leaders have declared their intention to broaden their operational scope to prevent vessels associated with Israel from traversing the Indian Ocean towards the Cape of Good Hope. Notably, the Cyclades commercial vessel and two U.S. destroyers were also targeted by the Houthis in the Red Sea.

Additionally, a maritime security firm, Ambrey, reported an attack on a Malta-flagged container ship while it was traveling from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Houthis claimed responsibility for this attack as well, citing the vessel's alleged ties with Israel. Ambrey suggested that the ship's operator's ongoing trade relations with Israel could have been a motivating factor for the attack.

In response to these escalating provocations, the United States and the United Kingdom have conducted retaliatory strikes against Houthi targets. This escalation in maritime hostilities has raised concerns about the potential spread of conflict and instability in the Middle East region.

The situation underscores the challenges faced by international shipping companies operating in these volatile waters and highlights the broader geopolitical tensions in the region.

April 30, 2024 12:55 p.m. 4238

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