Devastating Houthi Attack Stokes Fears of Middle East Escalation

( – The Houthis have had their most successful missile attack on shipping in the Red Sea yet on Monday, February 19th despite numerous strikes and confiscations of weapons by allied forces in the region. The crew of the cargo vessel MV Rubymar had to abandon ship in the Gulf of Aden after it was hit by two missiles launched from Yemen.

The vessel was damaged and may end up sinking due to the strikes. The incident marked the most severe missile attack by the Houthis yet, previous attacks only did minor damage or missed entirely.

U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) confirmed the attacks and resultant damage to the vessel in a press release. They highlighted that the vessel was British-owned and registered in Belize. They said the crew was taken to a nearby port by another merchant vessel and had received aid from a coalition warship.

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said that his militia was responsible for the strike while reiterating their campaign is in support of Palestinians in Gaza under siege by the Israeli military.

The conflict in Israel continues to drive instability in the region and isn’t likely to end without further bloodshed. Israel is intent on eradicating Hamas and argues they have to siege the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza, where 1.5 million refugees have fled from fighting in the rest of the tiny strip. Only the immediate release of hostages could potentially assuage their plans.

The refugees are already struggling to acquire adequate food, clean water, and shelter, and putting the city under siege will likely complicate and devastate the innocents attempting to escape the conflict.

D.C. lobbyist Charles Myers told viewers of CNBC’s “Capital Connection” that the escalation is multifaceted on Tuesday, February 20. He said that the Houthi problem is causing additional strain on regional partners as well as impacting international trade. He also said that coalition attacks against Houthi assets haven’t stopped the strikes, suggesting there will be more devastating attacks against the Houthis in the near future.

Myers also said he anticipates the Israeli military will continue its campaign in Gaza to kill off Hamas entirely. He added that the Israelis are also dealing with Hezbollah to the north, in Lebanon, and the fighting there is ongoing as well. So far the conflict has been limited to minor skirmishes and targeted assassinations of Hezbollah leadership by the Israelis.

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