US-led Red Sea force calms shippers amid Houthi attacks?

16 min read

There has been a significant deterioration in the United States-led multinational naval force that was supposed to protect and secure maritime traffic through the Red Sea from attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels. However, the force does not seem to have been alive when it launched, even though it is not quite dead.

There has been a huge pullout by France, Italy, and Spain from Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG) that was announced just a week before its announcement. The force, which was expected to include warships from over ten nations, is reportedly nearly fully formed.

Washington was almost forced to assemble what is essentially an anti-Houthi coalition as a result of the coalition coming together so suddenly. As early as November, a US destroyer shot down several missiles fired from Yemen. However, the US did not advertise its engagement with Yemeni militant groups and continued to maintain its business-as-usual posture.

The US could maintain that the whole affair was not a major regional escalation as long as the combative Houthis attempted, unsuccessfully, to lob missiles at Israel, a country that attacks Yemen’s Arab and Muslim neighbors, as long as the Houthis’ attempts were unsuccessful. It was only when they repeatedly attacked ships headed to and from the Suez Canal that the US was forced to act. In order to maintain the security of international shipping routes, they carried out repeated attacks on their ships.

Why would it be necessary for the US Navy to ask friendly nations to contribute more ships to the region since it already has an enormous number of ships in the area?

There are many reasons for the US being unable to spare many ships for a mission of this scale, even with a large force. Additionally, there are political concerns that Yemen cannot be attacked alone as it would be perceived as direct military action on the part of Israel, especially in the Middle East, where it would be perceived as direct military action on the part of Yemen.

There are a number of political and military dilemmas facing the United States that are largely influenced by geography and Yemen’s occupation of a strategically significant choke point where the Indian Ocean empties into the Red Sea. Bab el-Mandeb is the narrowest point in the Bab el-Mandeb passage, which has a width of only 29km (16 nautical miles).

There are more than 35 warships prepared to cross the Red Sea near the strait right now in positions from which they can reach the strait in less than 24 hours from at least 12 countries that do not border the Red Sea. At least as many are in the harbours of countries along the African and Arabian coasts of this country.

There are a number of these ships that have already been in the area before 7 October. Probably one of the most notorious pirate-infested areas in this century are maybe the northern parts of the Indian Ocean that lead into the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb, both of which are located in the northwestern parts of the Indian Ocean.

There was an unprecedented number of maritime piracy incidents in Somalia as a result of the civil war and breakdown of the central government. Pirates from Somalia have been able to intercept commercial shipping heading toward and from Bab el-Mandeb in three different directions: from the Far East, passing south of India, from the Gulf, sailing around the Arabian Peninsula, and from north to south along African shorelines. They use fast small boats and machine guns armed with rocket propelled grenades and machine guns.

As a result, shipping companies began to demand protection, and the international community, aware that it is crucial to ensure the security and openness of shipping lanes, provided it. A total of 200 ships cross the Suez every month in each direction, carrying no less than three million containers in each direction.

As a part of its anti-piracy missions since 1990, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) has undertaken a number of operations. The coalition consisted of over 30 nations, mostly western governments, but also Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, and Turkey, who participated in the operation and typically maintained at least four warships on station at any given time, rotating every three to four months.

The CTF-153 is a new force that was created by the government in 2022. There were six destroyers from the US and one from Japan in the latest conflict in Gaza, including USN Carney and USN Mason, Japanese destroyer JDS Akebono as well as one from South Korea, ROKS Yang Man Chun.

The US ships quickly moved into the Red Sea in anticipation of the arrival of stronger assets, and both of the US ships have on several occasions intercepted Houthi missiles and drones during their operations. In response to the situation, the US Navy deployed two aircraft carrier task groups – a group that includes cruisers and destroyers with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weapons, helicopter carriers, assault ships and other offensive and defensive assets – to a wider area.

In almost every case, it is safe to say that the White House did not immediately have a concrete action plan with regards to involvement in the Gaza conflict, but their decision to deploy civilian and military forces capable of dealing with all potential adversaries in the region was a wise military move.

As part of its diplomacy efforts, the White House was also engaged in negotiations. The US and the Iranian governments exchanged indirect statements detailing the fact that they were not seeking confrontation with each other. In response to the attacks on Israel conducted by Hamas on October 7, Iran announced that it had not been informed, and the US did everything it could to prevent alienating Iran. Tehran, on the other hand, is urging the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah to refrain from going on the offensive full-scale in response. There seemed to be an effective de-escalation in place.

The Houthis, a proxy group of the Iranians, in the same way that Hezbollah is considered a proxy group of the Iranians, decided to attack Israel in the Red Sea, demanding that Israel put an end to their war in Gaza. In response, Israel launched long-range missiles at the US Navy destroyers that had entered the Red Sea as well as naval missiles at the US Navy destroyers.

As a result of both operations, all missiles and drones were intercepted and destroyed on a number of occasions, resulting in the failure of both operations. As the US Navy was convinced that its two destroyers had the ability to handle the situation, a few more destroyers could possibly be added in the future to reinforce the force.

As the Red Sea started receiving attacks almost daily on tankers and container ships, it became apparent that the situation was escalating. As a result, many of the world’s largest shipping companies decide to opt for the longer and more expensive route around Africa rather than going through the Suez Canal. There is now a $700 surcharge on containers sailing the longer route that is being applied by commercial carriers.

In the case of just the vessels loaded with products from Asian manufacturers heading to Europe alone, the additional cost amounted to a staggering $2 billion per month. As a result, the final customers are subject to an increase in prices – resulting in inflation. A large number of nations will also feel the effects of the longer travel time due to the delayed distribution, shortages and general disruption of the economy that will result from the longer travel time.

In order to meet the expectations of the markets, the US optimistically believed that it could assemble a robust force of up to 20 participating nations to execute Operation Prosperity Guardian in a timely manner. Despite high hopes, high expectations were drowned in a flood of rejections within a few days. In 2004, the Pentagon was convinced that China, which has a strong interest in keeping open the sea lanes that take its exports to Europe, would join the initiative, even though it already has a small task force consisting of one destroyer and one frigate in the western Indian Ocean.

The Chinese government, however, replied that the OPG was not of any interest to them. As well as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other major Arab navies straddling the Red Sea shores, refrained from joining the operation. As a hint, they said they did not wish to engage an Arab country in a situation where they might be seen as threatening. As a result, it seems the Americans have shown an understanding for their position, and are confident that they will be able to attract enough ships without any problem.

The French, Italians, and Spaniards, on the other hand, have said they would not join a mission under the command of the United States – only if the mission belongs to the European Union or NATO. In addition to the United States, there are five other nations that are still officially on board with the OPG besides the US, namely: the United Kingdom, Norway, the Nether

As most of these companies already have ships in either the Indian Ocean or the eastern Mediterranean, they can quickly reach the Red Sea within a few days so that before the New Year, the OPG will be able to take over and begin escorting commercial shipping down the Red Sea.

First, we see the merchant marine reaction when the Danish shipping giant Maersk announced on Sunday that its vessels would resume transiting through the Red Sea under the escort of the OPG starting on Monday. It is likely that OPG can fulfil its promise to provide a safe passage, which would boost its support and influence container lines like MSC and CGN, and oil giants like BP and others to return to the shortest route. Maersk made it clear, however, that if safety conditions change, it may be able to resume its longer route around Africa in the future.

As many participating countries as there may be, Operation Prosperity Guardian is not just going to be another event in which ships will be escorted through the southern Red Sea, regardless of how many are participating. A number of worrying signs have emerged in the last few days which indicate a possible escalation of the conflict which could easily open up another front involving major regional players in the coming days.

That news provided by timenews.

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