For almost five years now, the war in Yemen has become increasingly intense between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition. The Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have been accused of launching attacks against Saudi Arabia and its allies. Recently, they have turned their attention towards the waters of the Red Sea, a vital international commercial thoroughfare. The fresh attacks in the Red Sea threaten to disrupt global supply chains and have far-reaching implications for the global economy.
The Red Sea has long been critical to global trade because it serves as an important gateway to the Suez Canal, a major transportation route connecting the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. The free passage of commercial vessels through the canal is crucial for international trade, and the Red Sea is now the center of the conflict.
In recent weeks, Houthi rebels have launched explosives-laden drones and missiles aimed at Iranian-operated commercial tankers in the Red Sea, causing them to catch fire and burn. They have also attacked a Saudi offshore oil production facility and fired rockets at a Saudi desalination plant. The attacks have caused worldwide alarm on the safety of the region, and raised concerns about the stability of the global supply chain.
The Houthi attacks have potentially damaging consequences for global trade. One of the latest attacks, earlier this month, targeted a Turkish-operated oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, leading to the closure of the nearby Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This has caused disruption of trade routes, with vessels having to reroute and take a circuitous path to avoid the area.
The lifeblood of the global economy is trade, specifically the efficient transportation of goods from one place to another. If the Red Sea becomes too dangerous for commercial vessels, it would have a noticeable impact on worldwide trade. The Port of Djibouti, located at the entrance of the Canal and which largely depends on the continuous transit of Red Sea shipping, would likely suffer the most.
The Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, if not stopped, could lead to further tightening of the already-frayed global economy. It is therefore essential that these attacks are quelled in order to ensure the free flow of commercial vessels through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. The international community must continue to put pressure on the Houthi rebels to cease their belligerent actions in the region, or else the global economy could be in great peril.