Bab al-Mandab, Yemen
19 December 2023

The U.S. was part of a joint statement condemning “Houthi interference with navigational rights and freedoms in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula, particularly the Red Sea… threaten[ing] international commerce and maritime security”. Signatories also asserted that “there is no justification for these attacks, which affect many countries beyond the flags these ships sail under” and urged “the Houthis to release the Galaxy Leader crew and ship [seized on 19 November] immediately and to cease additional attacks on commercial vessels in the region’s vital waterways”. The same day, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a ministerial with representatives of 43 countries regarding “the increased threat to maritime security in the Red Sea”, highlighting that “the Houthis had conducted over 100 one-way uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and ballistic missile attacks, targeting ten merchant vessels involving more than 35 different nations”, in addition to seizing a ship in November. He encouraged those attending “to join U.S.-led and other initiatives and work with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT) and the 39-member Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) to restore security in the Red Sea to deter future Houthi aggression”.

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