Houthi Rebels Down Second $30 Million US Drone in Yemen as Tensions Escalate in the Red Sea

Houthi Rebels Down Second $30 Million US Drone in Yemen as Tensions Escalate in the Red Sea

In a video released by Houthi rebels on Tuesday, they claim to have shot down a $30 million US MQ-9 Reaper drone off the coast of Hodeida, a port city in Yemen.

This marks the second such incident since late last year. The footage includes scenes of a surface-to-air missile bringing down the drone, along with men dragging pieces of debris from the water onto a beach.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh confirmed the downing of the $30 million drone in a briefing.

Evidence and Previous Incidents

The video displays debris, including components with English writing and apparent electrical equipment, corresponding to known parts of the MQ-9 Reaper.

This drone is typically used in attack missions and surveillance flights.

The Pentagon had acknowledged a similar incident in November, where an MQ-9 was shot down by rebels over the Red Sea. The Houthi rebels have been in control of Yemen’s north and its capital, Sanaa, since 2014.

Houthi Attacks on Shipping and Humanitarian Aid

Apart from the drone incident, the Houthi rebels claimed an attack on the Sea Champion, a Greek-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier carrying grain bound for Aden, Yemen.

Central Command highlighted that the carrier had delivered humanitarian aid to Yemen multiple times in recent years.

The rebels also targeted the Belize-flagged bulk carrier Rubymar with anti-ship ballistic missiles, emphasizing an escalation in attacks on shipping in the region.

Impact on Global Shipping and Potential Price Rises

The repeated attacks by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea have disrupted shipping routes, leading to increased shipping costs.

The chaos has caused a more than 300 percent jump in the price of global shipping containers from November 2023 to January 2024.

As a consequence, there are concerns that Britons could face severe price rises and shortages on household items such as white goods, sofas, garden furniture, and barbecues this summer.

US Response and Houthi Supply Sources

Despite losing drones worth millions and firing expensive cruise missiles, the US has not suffered any casualties from Houthi attacks since launching airstrikes targeting the rebels in January.

However, the Houthi rebels, reportedly supplied by Iran, continue to use cost-effective weapons.

US military statements indicate the destruction of numerous missiles and drones during their month-long campaign against the Houthi rebels.

Summary of Ongoing Conflict

The situation in the Red Sea continues to be tense, with Houthi rebels targeting ships and disrupting trade routes.

The conflict has prompted joint airstrikes by the UK and the US to counter Houthi attacks on commercial shipping.

The rebels have maintained a blockade on Israeli navigation in the Red and Arabian Seas, citing the need for a ceasefire and the lifting of the Gaza Strip siege.

The impact of these developments is felt not only in the geopolitical arena but also in global shipping and potential economic repercussions.

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