U.S. Fighter Jets Intercept Houthi Missile Targeting American Warship in Red Sea Amidst Escalating Tensions

Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched an anti-ship cruise missile at a U.S. destroyer in the Red Sea, which was successfully intercepted by a U.S. fighter jet. This marks the first acknowledged attack by the Houthis since the commencement of American-led strikes against them. The strikes, initiated on Friday, aim to counter weeks of rebel assaults on shipping in the Red Sea.

The missile, fired on Sunday, targeted the USS Laboon, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer operating in the southern Red Sea. The attack is part of a broader series of incidents disrupting global shipping, exacerbating tensions amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shiite rebel group controlling Yemen’s capital since 2014, have not immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

It remains unclear whether the U.S. will retaliate, though President Joe Biden has emphasized a commitment to safeguarding people and international commerce. The missile originated from Hodeida, a key port city controlled by the Houthis.

The recent U.S.-led strikes targeted 28 locations, hitting over 60 targets with cruise missiles and bombs. The Houthis have not disclosed the extent of damage from the strikes, while U.S. forces conducted a follow-up strike on a Houthi radar site.

Shipping through the Red Sea has slowed due to these attacks, prompting the U.S. Navy to issue warnings to American-flagged vessels. The Houthis, without evidence, claimed a U.S. strike near Hodeida on Sunday, possibly from a misfiring Houthi missile.

Since November, the Houthis have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea, citing retaliation for Israel’s actions in Gaza. These attacks jeopardize global trade routes, and Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, expressed concern about escalating maritime tensions, blaming U.S. strikes.

The situation is impacting shipping for Qatar, a major natural gas supplier. Liquid natural gas tankers bound for the Suez Canal remain idle off Oman, affecting Qatar’s energy exports.

Saudi Arabia, supporting the Yemeni government against the Houthis, seeks to distance itself from the attacks, maintaining a delicate balance with Iran. The ongoing conflict in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the U.S., has resulted in significant casualties and a humanitarian crisis. The U.S. military, while not confirming the specific target, has acknowledged active hostilities in the Red Sea, evidenced by combat ribbons awarded to U.S. sailors.