DIA Report on Houthi Attacks and Pressure on International Trade

June 13, 2024 9:34 AM

The following is the June 13, 2024, Defense Intelligence Agency report, Yemen: Houthi Attacks Placing Pressure on International Trade.

From the report

Since November 2023, the Houthis have conducted dozens of attacks on commercial ships transiting the Red Sea, endangering civilian crews and threatening freedom of navigation through a critical global transportation route. The Houthis are non-state actors in Yemen who have used Iran’s support to gradually expand their military capabilities since at least 2015. In early December 2023, the Houthis threatened to attack any ships that they believed were heading to Israeli ports, though many of their attacks both before and since have been against civilian ships with either tenuous or no known Israeli affiliations or port calls.

Since mid-December 2023, the Houthis have also threatened to attack ships affiliated with the United States and its allies, including members of Operation PROSPERITY GUARDIAN, a multinational initiative to protect international freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

Despite seeking international legitimacy, Houthi actions have damaged regional security, impeded international humanitarian relief efforts, and put stress on global maritime trade.

DIA Graphic

Economic Implications of Houthi Attacks:

  • As of mid-February, container shipping through Red Sea had declined by approximately 90% since December 2023; shipping via the Red Sea typically accounts for approximately 10-15% of international maritime trade. Effects have been less severe in other shipping sectors carrying commodities on bulkers and tankers.
  • Alternate shipping routes around Africa add about 11,000 nautical miles, 1-2 weeks of transit time, and approximately $1 million in fuel costs for each voyage.
  • For many shipping companies, the combined costs of crew bonuses, war risk insurance (roughly 1000% more than pre-war costs), and Suez transit fees make the additional time and financial costs traveling around Africa less expensive by comparison.
  • Threats to Red Sea transits are compounding ongoing stress to global maritime shipping caused by interruptions at the Panama Canal due to drought22 » As of mid-February, insurance premiums for Red Sea transits have risen to 0.7-1.0% of a ship’s total value, compared to less than 0.1% before December 2023.
  • As of February, humanitarian relief for Sudan and Yemen is being delayed by weeks and costing aid organizations more because of longer routes around Africa.

Download the document here.

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