Web Stories Saturday, February 24

WASHINGTON: The US military carried out new strikes in Yemen on Tuesday (Jan 16) against anti-ship ballistic missiles in a Houthi-controlled part of the country as a missile struck a Greek-owned vessel in the Red Sea.

Disruptions to Red Sea shipping caused by Houthi attacks will push up prices of consumer goods in Europe in particular, an executive from port and freight operator DP World said as the impact on commerce increased.

Attacks by the Houthis on ships in the region since November have affected companies and alarmed major powers – an escalation of Israel’s more than three-month-old war with Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza.

The Houthis say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians and have threatened to expand its attacks to include US ships in response to American and British strikes on its sites in Yemen.

In a bid to cut off their funding and supply of weapons, US President Joe Biden’s administration plans to put Houthi rebels back on a US list of terrorist organisations, two US officials told Reuters. 

The Biden administration in 2021 had taken the Houthis off two lists designating them as terrorists, reversing a decision by former President Donald Trump. The latest move, which is expected on Wednesday, would put the Houthis back on one of the two lists, marking them as “specially designated global terrorists.”

The White House said additional US strikes on Tuesday took out ballistic missiles Houthis were ready to launch, confirming a Reuters story earlier, citing US officials, that a new strike was launched at four anti-ship missiles. The strike had not been previously reported.

“We’re not looking to expand this. The Houthis have a choice to make and they still have time to make the right choice, which is to stop these reckless attacks,” White House spokesperson John Kirby said.

France chose not take part in the US-led strikes because it wants to avoid a regional escalation, President Emmanuel Macron told a news conference. The country has a “defensive” approach in the Red Sea and would stick to this stance, Macron said.

Two heads of international banking groups attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos said privately that they were worried the crisis might cause inflationary pressures that could ultimately delay or reverse interest rate cuts and jeopardise hopes for a US economic soft landing.

DP World CFO Yuvraj Narayan said he expected disruptions to hit European imports.

“The cost of goods into Europe from Asia will be significantly higher,” Narayan told Reuters at the annual WEF meeting in Davos, the Swiss ski resort.

“European consumers will feel the pain … It will hit developed economies more than it will hit developing economies,” the Dubai-based logistics company’s finance chief added.

War risk insurance premiums for shipments through the Red Sea are rising, insurance sources said on Tuesday.

In Spain, four factories owned by French tyre maker Michelin are planning to halt output again this weekend, a further sign of the impact of delays in the delivery of raw materials.

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