Houthis hit US-owned ship in attack after “terrorist” designation

The attack was carried with a drone that damage a US-owned bulk carrier.

A US-owned ship was attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea on Wednesday, hours after the US announced it will re-impose “terrorist” label on the group for its role in disrupting maritime trade in the region.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack on the “Genco Picardy” bulk carrier, saying they fired missiles that hit the ship with precision.

The US military confirmed that the ship was struck by a drone that originated from Houthi-held territory in Yemen. It said the ship suffered some damage but no casualties, and it was able to continue sailing.

The attack came as the US said it will re-designate the Houthis as “global terrorists”, a move that will freeze their assets and ban their members from entering the US.

The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the decision was based on the Houthis’ repeated attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which he said amounted to terrorism and endangered US personnel and global trade. He said the US will reconsider the designation if the Houthis stop their attacks and engage in peace talks.

The US had previously designated the Houthis as “global terrorists” and “foreign terrorist organisation” (FTO) in the final days of the Trump administration, but reversed the decision in 2021 after President Joe Biden took office. The reversal was motivated by humanitarian concerns, as the UN and aid agencies warned that the sanctions could worsen the famine and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where millions of people depend on aid for survival.

The US said it revoked the FTO designation but kept the “global terrorist” designation to balance the humanitarian and security interests. However, the US said it was compelled to re-impose the sanctions after the Houthis escalated their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, which is a vital route for global trade and energy supplies.

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition that supports the internationally recognised government of Yemen since 2015. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

The Houthis said their attacks on the Red Sea were in retaliation for the Israeli military operation in Gaza, which killed more than 200 Palestinians and injured thousands more.

They also accused the US and the UK of being complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes on their positions in Yemen, which they said amounted to aggression against their country.

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