Houthis Show Long-Range With Attack on Ship in the Indian Ocean

The attack came after the Houthi leader said attacks would expand into the Indian Ocean

Yemen’s Houthis targeted an Israel-linked container ship deep in the Arabian Sea, demonstrating an ability to hit targets at a long range after Houthi Leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik al-Houthi vowed to expand attacks into the Indian Ocean.

The attack on the MSC Orion took place last Friday but was just confirmed by maritime authorities on Tuesday. The crew of the vessel said they discovered debris that looked like a drone and reported minor damage and said no one was hurt.

According to the Joint Maritime Information Center, the ship was hit in the Indian Ocean about 170 miles south of the Yemeni island of Socotra, which is not controlled by the Houthis, and about 400 miles from the Yemeni mainland.

The MSC Orion is owned by London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. The Houthis began targeting Israel-linked shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden last year in response to the Israeli slaughter in Gaza and expanded to targeted American and British shipping after the US and UK began a new bombing campaign in Yemen on January 12.

The Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah, restarted attacks on commercial shipping last week after about a two-week lull. During the lull, the Houthis were examining “incentives” to stop the attacks put forward by the US, which included an offer to fully lift the blockade on Yemen that’s been imposed since 2015. But the Houthis decided to stick with their position that the campaign will continue until there’s a ceasefire in Gaza.

The US tried diplomacy with the Houthis after months of bombing Yemen, which only escalated the situation. From 2015-2022, the US backed a brutal Saudi/UAE war against the Houthis that involved heavy airstrikes and a blockade, and the Houthis only became more of a capable fighting force during that time.

The war killed at least 377,000 people, with more than half dying of starvation and disease caused by the siege. A ceasefire between the Houthis and Saudis has held relatively well since April 2022, but new US sanctions are now blocking the implementation of a lasting peace deal.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.