Since October 7th, 2023, Houthi militants in Yemen have been aggressively targeting commercial cargo ships in the Red Sea, creating a shipping impact and severely disrupting maritime trade (containers and commercial shipping vessels). So far, over two dozen military-style attacks against commercial sea containers have taken place.
The Houthis are a Shiite minority sect based in Yemen. They are backed by Iranian-backed weapons including drones used to attack commercial ocean vessels such as MSC and Hapag-Lloyd to cancel and detour routes originally meant to pass through the Red Sea.
The Houthis are an armed political and religious group that champions Yemen’s Shia Muslim minority, the Zaidis. They declare themselves to be part of the Iranian-led “axis of resistance” against Israel, the US, and the wider West – along with armed groups such as Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
The US says Iran enabled the Houthis to target ships. President Biden said he had sent a “private message” to Tehran urging it to stop. Iran denies involvement in the attacks.
Saudi Arabia and the US say Iran has smuggled weapons – including drones, and cruise and ballistic missiles – to the Houthis during Yemen’s civil war in violation of a UN arms embargo. It says such missiles and drones have been used in attacks on Saudi Arabia, as well as its ally, the United Arab Emirates.
The strike attacks are primarily occurring in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea, and is bordered by Yemen on one side and Djibouti and Eritrea on the other.
WHY IS THE SOUTHERN RED SEA SO SIGNIFICANT?
The Red Sea, one of the world’s most densely packed shipping channels, lies south of the Suez Canal, the most significant waterway connecting Europe to Asia and East Africa. At its southern end is a narrow strait of water – about 20 miles wide – between Djibouti and Yemen: the Bab el-Mandeb strait. This is the area that the Houthi rebels in Yemen have been targeting.
In response to the Israeli-Hammas / Gaza war, the Houthis are targeting ships that they believe are Israeli-owned, flagged, or operated, or which are heading to Israeli ports. Many of the vessels have little to no connections with Israel.
The US has coordinated a coalition of countries who have agreed to carry out maritime patrols in the southern Red Sea to try to protect vessels against attacks. The coalition, called Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG), includes the UK, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.
President Joe Biden said the strikes were in “direct response” to the attacks on Red Sea ships, which “jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation”. The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the action was “necessary and proportionate” to protect global shipping.
Last week, a US-owned and operated cargo ship was hit by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile, according to US Central Command. A Houthi official vowed that attacks on “Israeli-linked” vessels in the Red Sea as well as the Arabian Sea will continue.
THE POTENTIAL IMPACT TO YOUR BUSINESS
Due to the issues in the Red Sea, there has been a knock-on effect on commercial shipping with time delays and increasing sea-container charges being passed on to commercial manufacturers. Seasonal Living has experienced some limited delays in receiving its containers. In addition, Seasonal Living has experienced some increase in container pricing (not as much as European importers).
Your Key Takeaway: Container prices are increasing and if the Red Sea attacks continue, you may experience longer lead times. For now, Seasonal Living has absorbed the increased costs in container pricing and these have not been passed on to our customers at this time.
Major shipping companies have stopped using the Red Sea – through which almost 15% of global seaborne trade usually passes. Instead, they are using a much longer route around southern Africa. The result of this is that many African ports are clogged with vessels and this is adding to the delays in goods reaching (primarily) European markets.
Seasonal Living’s recommendation to Customers Purchasing Products from Overseas: With the North American Spring around the corner, plan accordingly and if your orders are time-sensitive, add extra time to your order dates to avoid disappointment.
COMMITMENT TO SERVICE
At Seasonal Living, we understand the importance of timely deliveries and are actively working to minimize any potential inconveniences this situation may cause. Our team is closely monitoring the developments in the region and is in constant communication with our logistics partners to find alternative routes and solutions. In the event that we experience significant delays, we will be communicating with you so that you can manage your customer expectations.
We want to assure you that we are committed to maintaining transparency and providing timely updates as we navigate through these challenges. Our customer service team is available to address any concerns or questions you may have regarding existing orders or future shipments. Feel free to reach out to us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.