15 December 2023

CENTCOM confirmed that “Houthi forces contacted the Motor Vessel MSC Alanya, a Liberian flagged vessel that was traveling north in the southern part of the Red Sea and threatened to attack it… U.S. forces maintained direct communications with the vessel, and the Alanya continued north”. Later, “a UAV launched from Houthi held territory struck the Liberian flagged Motor Vessel Al Jasrah as it was travelling south in the Red Sea”, causing a fire which was extinguished. CENTCOM also reported that “Houthi forces launched two ballistic missiles towards the international shipping lanes in the Bab al-Mandab strait. One of these missiles struck the Liberian flagged MV Palatium 3, which broadcast a mayday call and reported that the vessel was on fire. The USS Mason has responded to that request. The other missile likely missed any ships”. The Houthis claimed responsibility for attacking the Alanya and Palatium 3, reiterating that they would “continue to prevent all ships heading to Israeli ports from navigating in the Arab and Red Seas”. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan contended that “while the Houthis are pulling the trigger, so to speak, they’re being handed the gun by Iran… Iran has a responsibility to take steps themselves to cease these attacks”. A senior Iranian diplomat subsequently maintained that “the Yemenis [ie, the Houthis] are an independent actor in the international arena, acting based on their own judgment and therefore it is not right to link their actions to others”.

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