From Security Council Resolution 2722 to the Battlefield: Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea and US Response

From Security Council Resolution 2722 to the Battlefield: Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea and US Response
Photo by Tim Mossholder via Pexels


Andrej Confalonieri

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Days after the Houthis’ largest attack on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the subsequent adoption of Resolution 2722 (2024) by the United Nations Security Council, [1] the rebels continued launching attacks on commercial vessels, thereby continuing to pose a threat to shipping routes. [2] 

For instance, on January 15th, the United States (“the US”) first successfully intercepted a missile aimed at a US destroyer in the Red Sea. A US fighter jet was indeed able to shoot down the missile, which was fired from a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen toward the USS Laboon in the Red Sea. [3] The incident occurred off the coast of Hudaydah, and no injuries or damage were reported. [4] This follows US and British strikes in Yemen aimed at degrading the military capabilities of the Houthi rebels. On January 11th and 12th, the strikes targeted approximately 30 locations, which allegedly included arms depots, logistical centres, and air defence systems. [5] President Joe Biden and the United Kingdom (“the UK”) expressed readiness for further action if necessary. [6] 

A few hours later, the rebels targeted a US-owned cargo ship, Gibraltar Eagle, with a ballistic missile in the Gulf of Aden, off Yemen’s coast. [7] The vessel, flagged in the Marshall Islands, sustained limited damage but no injuries and was, therefore, able to continue its journey. The ship, which carried steel products, was about 160 km offshore in the Gulf of Aden when hit. [8] While the Houthis vow to continue targeting ships associated with Israel, [9] the Gibraltar Eagle was not associated with Israel, as reported by British maritime security company Ambrey. [10] In response to the attack, Washington issued a maritime alert for US-flagged and US-owned commercial vessels to avoid specified areas in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, while the oil company QatarEnergy paused shipping via the route. [11]

On January 17th, the Houthis targeted the Greek-owned bulk carrier Zografia in the Red Sea while it was travelling from Vietnam to Israel, causing minor damage. This comes after the US military forces seised Iranian-supplied weapons destined for the Houthis. [12] Meanwhile, the US and UK conducted airstrikes on Houthi-controlled areas, destroying four ready-to-launch anti-ship ballistic missiles. [13] Like QatarEnergy, the oil company Shell suspended Red Sea shipments, joining other companies in rerouting via the Cape of Good Hope. [14]

On January 18th, Houthi forces launched a missile attack on a US-owned vessel, MV Chem Ranger, in the Red Sea, following President Biden’s acknowledging that previous US strikes had not deterred the militants. [15] Washington reported no damage or injuries as US forces successfully destroyed two Houthi anti-ship missiles aimed at the Southern Red Sea. The US emphasised the defensive nature of their actions, stating they did not seek war with the Houthis. [16]

Sources and further reading

[1] See Andrej Confalonieri, ‘Houthi Attacks Continue: A Closer Look at UN Security Council Resolution 2722’ (GHRTV, 17 January 2024) <> accessed 18 January 2024.  

[2] See Confalonieri, ‘Houthi Attacks on Shipping Routes: Challenges and Consequences’ (GHRTV, 16 January 2024) <> accessed 18 January 2024. See also Confalonieri, ‘Houthi Attacks Continue’ (n 1).

[3] Phelan Chatterjee, ‘Yemen: US shoots down missile from Houthi-run area fired towards warship’ (BBC News, 15 January 2024) <> accessed 18 January 2024.  

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Lipika Pelham, ‘Houthi missile hits US-owned container ship in Gulf of Aden’ (BBC News, 16 January 2024) <> accessed 19 January 2024.

[8] Ibid

[9] See Confalonieri, ‘Houthi Rebels at Sea: Escalating Tensions Beyond Borders’ (GHRTV, 1 December 2023) <> accessed 11 January 2024. See also Confalonieri, ‘Houthi Attacks on Shipping Routes’ (n 2); Confalonieri, ‘Houthi Attacks Continue’ (n 1).

[10] Pelham (n 3).

[11] Ibid

[12] Kathryn Armstrong, ‘Red Sea attacks: Greek vessel hit by missile fired by Houthi rebels’ (BBC News, 17 January 2024) <> accessed 19 January 2024.

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid

[15] Max Matza, ‘Biden says US strikes on Houthis in Yemen have not stopped Red Sea attacks’ (BBC News, 19 January 2024) <> accessed 19 January 2024. 

[16] Ibid.