Theme:

  • Since November 2023, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking commercial container ships in the Red Sea to express their support for Palestinians. The US announced a new naval task force to ensure security in this region. Since then, the US shot down missiles and drones launched by Houthi rebels and sank three of their boats killing 10 militants. Now, concerns are growing about the possibility of a broader conflict extending beyond Israel and Palestine, potentially involving Iran and the United States.

Where is Red Sea located:

  • The Red Sea is a big part of the ocean between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It’s called the ‘Red Sea’ because the water has a distinctive reddish colour because of the presence of minerals like iron in the water. It is bordered by countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti.
  • The Red Sea is the entry point for ships using the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal plays a vital role in global trade, offering ships a shorter route between Europe and Asia, leading to significant time and cost savings.

Red Sea crisis:

  • As of January 2024, at least 22,000 people were killed in the Israel-Hamas war, which started on 7th October when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, firing five thousand rockets into southern and central Israel. To express their support for the Palestinian militant group – Hamas, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking commercial container ships in the Red Sea since November 2023.
  • Ships travelling through the Suez Canal pass through the Red Sea as part of their route between Europe and Asia. So, due to the present situation, major shipping companies are choosing costlier and longer routes around Africa instead of the Suez Canal route.
  • After the destruction of Houthi boats by the US, an Iranian warship entered the Red Sea in January 2024.
  • If this conflict continues for a long time, it will increase food and oil prices.
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Way Forward:

  • The international community should take steps to prevent the escalation of the conflict. Moreover, there is a need to work towards achieving a ceasefire in Gaza, which is the root cause of the issue.

Conclusion:

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels are attacking commercial tankers in the Red Sea and the US started a new naval task force to counter them. The conflict led to an Iranian warship entering the Red Sea. This resulted in fears of widening war beyond Israel – Palestine.

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