Houthis’ Ability to Halt Naval Traffic in Red Sea Highlights Potential for Iran to Close Persian Gulf

The success of the Houthis in shutting down maritime traffic in the Red Sea has been a topic of discussion, with Yemen emerging as an unexpected force in naval warfare. The impact of this achievement on Israel’s ports has been notable, considering Yemen’s historical insignificance in naval power.

The response to the Yemeni threat from the United States and its international allies has been a multi-national effort, albeit with certain limitations. Despite the assembly of a diverse fleet, including small coast guard vessels and naval officers from various countries, the effectiveness of this coalition faces obstacles that have been outlined in a previous article.

These obstacles include Yemen’s use of low-cost drones to target ships, overwhelming Aegis defense systems, limited missile supply, and the need for U.S. destroyers to refit at coalition bases. Additionally, deploying assets to locate mobile missile sites in Yemen presents its own challenges.

The juxtaposition of Yemen’s capabilities against the response to the Yemeni threat has raised questions about Iran’s potential to execute similar tactics. With its naval resources and arsenal of anti-ship missiles and drones, Iran could pose a comparable challenge, as evidenced by the impact of Yemen’s actions.

When considering the composition of a carrier strike group in light of the aforementioned limitations, it becomes apparent that the fleet’s principal air defense capability could be compromised by a sustained drone or anti-ship missile attack. This vulnerability would necessitate the withdrawal of the carrier strike group to secure more missiles, potentially explaining the cautious approach of the Pentagon in engaging in strikes within Yemen.

The reality of the situation underscores the need for a re-evaluation of naval strategy and response capabilities in the face of unconventional threats posed by countries with limited naval power but significant technological resources. As the dynamics of maritime warfare shift, the militaries of powerful nations must adapt to confront these new challenges effectively.

The developments in Yemen serve as a reminder that even countries with limited conventional military might can impact global maritime trade and security, necessitating a comprehensive re-assessment of naval strategy and defense capabilities on an international scale. The evolving nature of conflicts underscores the need for preparedness against unconventional threats, reshaping the future of naval warfare and international security.


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