The United States unveiled a new multinational security initiative on Monday to combat mounting attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Operation Prosperity Guardian, aimed at addressing security concerns in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its objective is to safeguard navigation rights and bolster regional stability and growth.

Joining the mission are countries like Britain, France, Italy, Norway, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Bahrain, and the Seychelles, forming an alliance to tackle the escalating challenge.

Recent reports from the US military highlight renewed Houthi rebel attacks on two ships in the southern Red Sea. A drone and missile, fired from a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen, targeted the Cayman Islands-flagged tanker Swan Atlantic. Simultaneously, the freighter M/V Clara encountered an explosion nearby, causing no injuries.

Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have been launching drone and missile strikes on Israel, besides targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea to hinder routes toward Israel. They’ve vowed to disrupt ships traveling to Israel until Gaza receives essential supplies.

The ongoing attacks prompted major shipping companies to suspend Red Sea and Suez Canal routes due to safety concerns.

Defense Secretary Austin, currently in the Middle East, emphasized that the escalating Houthi attacks threaten commerce, risk innocent lives, and violate international laws. He called for collective action from nations to protect freedom of navigation, critical for global trade routes passing through the Suez Canal, which accounts for about 10% of worldwide trade.