YEMEN’S Ansar Allah group, also known as the Houthi movement, intends to expand its targets in the region to include US ships.
Global media have reported Ansar Allah plans to continue its attacks against ships in the region after US and UK forces launched strikes against its sites in Yemen last week.
Australia was one of four countries to have supported the strikes.
A spokesperson for the militia told Al Jazeera (cited by Reuters) that US and UK ships had become targets following the strikes on 12 January.
“The ship doesn’t necessarily have to be heading to Israel for us to target it,” the spokesperson said.
“It is enough for it to be American.
“The United States is on the verge of losing its maritime security.”
Ansar Allah initially said it would only target Israeli ships or those sailing to Israel.
In the latest reported attack, U.S. Central Command said Houthi forces in Yemen struck the US-owned and operated dry bulk ship Gibraltar Eagle with an anti-ship ballistic missile on Monday, though there were no reports of injuries or significant damage. The vessel was in the Gulf of Aden when it was attacked.
Earlier in the day, British maritime security firm Ambrey said a Marshall Islands-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier was reportedly struck by a missile while transiting near Yemen’s port of Aden, according to Reuters.
The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has said that US actions in the Red Sea “would harm the security of all maritime navigation” including ships which have nothing to do with the conflict.
And sea-freight analytics platform Xeneta warned the UK and US missile strikes had heightened tensions – and disruptions – across the region.
The world’s major shipping firms have been suspending and rerouting Red Sea transits since Ansar Allah ramped up attacks on commercial shipping.
“We want to see safe, risk-free voyages through the area for vessels and the situation must calm down for that to happen,” Xeneta chief analyst Peter Sand said.
“There is never a straight line to a resolution and perhaps the missile strikes in Yemen by the US and UK is the beginning of the endgame in this crisis, but, short term, things will get worse before they get better for ocean freight supply chains.
“Vessels are already avoiding the area due to the Houthi attacks and the US and UK missile strikes are unlikely to change that.
“The longer this crisis goes on, the more disruption it will cause to ocean freight shipping across the globe and costs will continue to rise.”