Worried by Houthi rebels’ attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, major shipping companies and oil giants have pulled out, causing major disruptions in the global supply chain. It is the latest targeting of container ships and oil tankers passing through a narrow waterway that separates Yemen from East Africa and leads north to the Red Sea and Suez Canal, through which an estimated 10 percent of the world’s trade passes. The crucial waterway, for consumer goods and energy supplies, now sees container giants like MSC and Maersk rerouting or halting journeys altogether. This has triggered an international response, with the US leading a ten-nation “Operation Prosperity Guardian” to patrol the area and safeguard commerce. Countries participating in Operation Prosperity Guardian include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.
While the long-term impact remains unclear, rerouting around Africa adds considerable time to voyages, potentially delaying online orders and pushing up shipping costs. The Christmas rush may escape unscathed, but the disruptions could ripple through supply chains in the new year, affecting the availability and price of various goods. Despite the concerns, experts believe the economic impact won’t reach the dizzying heights of the pandemic, offering a flicker of hope amidst the choppy waters of the Red Sea.