'Al-Akhbar' Daily: 'Comprehensive Deterrence Plan' Of Houthi Ansar Allah Movement To Include 'Major Operations' On U.S. Ships In Red Sea, Attacks On U.S. Bases In Region

December 31, 2023

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A December 29, 2023 article by the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar[1] claimed that Yemen's Iran-backed Ansar Allah Movement (the Houthis) has formulated "a new comprehensive military deterrence plan" to confront threats to "Yemen's maritime sovereignty" posed by U.S. actions in the Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb. Quoting "Yemeni military sources," Al-Akhbar stated that an "exceptional meeting" of senior Houthi military and security officials held on the evening of December 27 in the Red Sea port of Al-Hudaydah[2] discussed "several response options to the American mobilization, Washington's efforts to militarize the Red Sea, and the movement of the tools of the [United Arab] Emirates on the western coast," after the Houthis received direct and indirect threats from America. The meeting, the first of its kind since the beginning of the Yemen war in 2015, contained "more than one message of challenge to America and its allies in the region and inside [Yemen]," aiming to escalate the Houthi operations against "Israeli ships" by "tightening the naval blockade on Israel" and taking measures against American ships, following the deployment of U.S. warships to protect Israeli shipping.

Quoting a "military source" in Al-Hudaydah, Al-Akhbar reported that at the meeting, the Houthis decided to "put all American warships in the Red Sea on the list of targets." The Lebanese daily noted that the USS Mason and USS Carney destroyers are currently located near Bab-el-Mandeb, while four U.S. ships, frigates, and destroyers are about 100 miles away, on the other side of the strait off the coast of Djibouti. The USS Bataan amphibious assault ship, USS Carter Hall amphibious warship, and a third warship, all in the southern Red Sea near the Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia, have helped rescue other craft which were attacked by Houthi naval missiles. Quoting "naval sources," Al-Akhbar reported that the targeted ships were disabled and towed out of the international shipping lane to the Djibouti coast.

The Lebanese daily further quoted "military sources in Sanaa," who said that the outcomes of the meeting will be "shocking" for the U.S., predicting "major operations" against U.S. warships in the coming days if the U.S. continues its "escalation in the Gaza strip" and American warships continue their attempts to open the Houthi blockade. The sources added that it was decided to "put all American bases inside a red circle, announcing the perpetration of attacks against them." Ships of countries participating in the U.S.-led Prosperity Guardian coalition will also be targeted, according to the sources.

"Well-informed shipping sources" told Al-Akhbar that the U.S. has tried to impose an indirect naval blockade on Al-Hudaydah by pressuring international shipping companies to stop shipping goods to the port. At the same time, the Aden-based Yemeni government, backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, instructed international shipping companies not to deliver new shipments to any Yemeni ports not controlled by the internationally recognized government. According to Al-Akhbar, such measures aim to block shipping to the Al-Hudaydah and conflict with the roadmap to peace in Yemen – expected to be signed next week – which urges the removal of all restrictions on maritime traffic to and from the port.

Houthi Political Bureau member 'Ali Al-Qahoum told Al-Akhbar that the U.S.-led coalition has "failed so far to stop or alleviate the blockade imposed on Israeli ships or foreign ships headed toward the [Israeli-]occupied ports," adding that "the only, least costly option for the Americans and Israelis" is to accept the Houthi demands to stop the war in Gaza and allow aid to enter. Otherwise, "Sanaa has many surprises which exceed the assessments of the enemies of the ummah [Islamic nation]."

On December 31, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that helicopters from the USS Eisenhower and Gravely responded to a distress call by a container ship under attack by four small Houthi boats.[3] After the boats fired at the helicopters, they returned fire, sinking three of the boats and killing their crews. While an official Houthi response to the incident has yet to be issued, unofficial accounts supporting the group dismissed the CENTCOM announcement as an "American lie" intended to present a "false victory."[4]

Since the formation of the U.S.-led coalition, Houthi officials have issued threats to its member countries. On December 20, the group's leader, 'Abdul-Malik Badreddin Al-Houthi, threatened that if the U.S. sent troops into Yemen, it would "face something more severe than what it faced in Afghanistan and what it suffered in Vietnam,"[5] while Houthi Political Bureau member Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti added that the Houthis would respond to any American aggression against Yemen with an attack on American interests and ships, stating, "We prefer direct war with the U.S., rather than with its tools."[6] According to the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed daily, Houthi Information Minister Dayfallah Al-Shami threatened: "The more the coalition expands, the list of targets for our armed forces will expand."[7]

Houthi Deputy Minister of Information Nasr Al-Din 'Amer posted a photo of the Al-Hudaydah meeting on December 27, showing a map of U.S. bases in the Middle East circled in red.[8]


[1] Al-akhbar, December 29, 2023.

[3] Twitter, December 31, 2023.

[4] Twitter, December 31, 2023.

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