Despite more weekend rounds of US heavy strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen, the militant group aligned with Iran is vowing more attacks on vessels in the Red Sea. As we previously detailed, the US-led coalition attempting to protect the vital transit waterway launched dozens of fresh missile and airstrikes, with most of them coming on Saturday against at least 36 targets.
A Houthi spokesman, Yahya Saree, responded soon after on Sunday, saying "These attacks will not deter us from our moral, religious and humanitarian stance" in support of Palestinians in Gaza. He vowed that it won't pass "without response and punishment."
Video of launches from USS GRAVELY, USS CARNEY, and USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER supporting strikes on Iranian-backed Houthi targets pic.twitter.com/EMSkDANoeF— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 4, 2024
Additionally, Bloomberg has cited members of the Houthi political council to say the group now considers that there's "open war" and that its military capabilities remain undeterred - though this isn't the first time the Shia group has declared 'war' on Israel and its backers since Oct.7.
Yet a separate Houthi official has said the goal of disruption of regional trade as revenge for Israel's crimes in Gaza will continue "no matter the sacrifices it costs us" and vowed escalation, according to Fox. Mohammed al-Bukhaiti's statement said further, "The US-British coalition’s bombing of a number of Yemeni provinces will not change our position, and we affirm that our military operations against Israel will continue until the crimes of genocide in Gaza are stopped and the siege on its residents is lifted, no matter the sacrifices it costs us."
Washington is at the same time saying more strikes are on the horizon:
"We intend to take additional strikes, and additional action, to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked, when our people are killed," White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC’s "Meet the Press" program on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Houthis are touting that they have more tricks up their sleeve and ways to "punish" the Western coalition and those supporting Israel.
"Telecom firms linked to the UN-recognized Yemen government have said they fear Houthi rebels are planning to sabotage a network of submarine cables in the Red Sea critical to the functioning of the western internet and the transmission of financial data," The Guardian reports.
According to the specific Houthi threat:
The warning came after a Houthi-linked Telegram channel published a map of the cables running along the bed of the Red Sea. The image was accompanied by a message: “There are maps of international cables connecting all regions of the world through the sea. It seems that Yemen is in a strategic location, as internet lines that connect entire continents – not only countries – pass near it.”
Yemen Telecom said it had made both diplomatic and legal efforts during the past few years to persuade global international telecom alliances not to have any dealings with the Houthis since it would provide a terrorist group with knowledge of how the submarine cables operated. It has been estimated that the Red Sea carries about 17% of the world’s internet traffic along fiber pipes.
Any potential operation to sever the submarine cables, but which are sometimes no thicker that a garden hose, would likely be a sophisticated deep underwater technical campaign, but is widely believed within the realm of possibility given the Houthis' determination thus far.
One security analyst told The Guardian that the "cables have been kept safe more due to the Houthis’ relative technological underdevelopment than for a lack of motivation."
Speaking of the cables, the report notes that "One of the most strategic is the 15,500-mile (25,000km) Asia-Africa-Europe AE-1 that goes from south-east Asia to Europe via the Red Sea."
If already the Houthis have no fear of launching anti-ship missiles at US and UK Navy destroyers, then certainly they could have their eyes next set on sabotaging the globe's internet infrastructure, and it's likely on a matter of time.