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US Coast Guard seizes missile parts, explosives intended for Houthis

Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew offloads drugs in San Diego (Petty Officer 3rd Class Alex Gray/Coast Guard)
February 19, 2024

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Clarence Sutphin Jr (WPC 1147) seized 200 packages containing medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle (UUV/USV) components, military-grade communication equipment, and anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies in the Arabian Sea Jan. 28.

According to a CENTCOM press release, the equipment was bound for delivery to Houthi forces.

“This is yet another example of Iran’s malign activity in the region,” said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, CENTCOM commander. “Their continued supply of advanced conventional weapons to the Houthis is in direct violation of international law and continues to undermine the safety of international shipping and the free flow of commerce.”

Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea continued, with CENTCOM forces conducting two self-defense strikes on prepared missiles Feb. 15. Another missile was launched toward the MV Lycavitos, a Barbados-flagged, UK-owned carrier. The ship reported no injuries, only minor damage, and was able to complete its journey.

READ MORE: Houthis attack Iran-bound ship

Just three days prior, on Feb. 12, Houthi forces fired two missiles toward Bab al-Mandeb toward the MV Star Iris, a Greek-owned, Marshall Island-flagged cargo vessel en route from Brazil. The ship reported no injuries and minor damage. U.S. and Britain-led counterattacks in the Red Sea became a point of contention between world leaders during a recent U.N. council meeting when Russia and China accused the U.S. and Britain of illegally attacking military sites. 

According to The Associated Press, Russia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky and China’s U.N. envoy Zhang Jun argued the U.N. Security Council had not authorized military action against Yemen. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood and U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward countered that Houthi actions in the Red Sea were illegal and that U.S. and U.K. forces were conducting counterstrikes in self-defense.

Wood stated that Iran has been providing the Houthis with “a growing arsenal of advanced weapons” since 2014, and the Houthis are now “trying to apply a chokehold on global shipping through the Red Sea.” He encouraged all countries to “press Iran’s leaders to rein in the Houthis and stop these lawless attacks.”

Hans Grunberg, U.N. special envoy for Yemen, stated that the Houthis “committed to a nationwide cease-fire” in December. He said Yemen’s progress to peace was slowed by events in the region, with U.S. and U.K. attacks on Houthi targets, as well as the U.S. declaration of the Houthis as a Specially Designated Terrorist Group “concerning.”