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Consumers face higher prices for goods as Houthis continue attacks in Red Sea

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The Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea are threatening to disrupt U.S. and global markets with delayed shipping times and increased good prices, The Washington Post reported.

Due to the Yemen-based Houthis launching several attacks since October 7th against vessels in the Red Sea as part of retaliation efforts against Israel and its allies, commercial vessels are now taking longer routes to reach their destinations, resulting in delays and higher shipping costs, and ultimately increased prices for consumer goods in the U.S. and across the world.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reports “Major shipping companies like COSCO, Maersk and CMA CGM, as well as several fuel tankers, previously utilized major trade routes in the Red Sea that cut through Africa and Asia, according to the Post. The recent spate of Houthi attacks has forced shipping vessels to move down and around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.”

This new route adds thousands of miles and potentially weeks of time to a vessel’s trip, according to the Post.

“It’s about an 8 percent longer journey, which is going to drive prices up quite a bit for ocean freight – that’s a material impact on prices for the goods themselves,” Ryan Petersen, CEO of Flexport, told the Post. Petersen noted that the higher costs associated with shipping these goods will affect the prices of “most of the stuff that you see in stores.”

Delayed shipping times also mean that some of the goods these vessels are carrying will no longer be in season when they finally arrive at their destination, making them less profitable to retailers and wholesalers, according to the Post.

“You can’t sell Valentine’s Day cards on St. Patrick’s Day,” George Kochanowski, CEO of shipping container company Staxxon, told the Post.

 

U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in December that an international task force had been formed to combat the Houthi’s aggression in the Red Sea. On Friday, the United States Treasury Department announced new sanctions will be imposed on the Islamic-Republic backed Houthis.

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Israel

Military was prepared to deploy to Gaza to rescue U.S. hostages

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The Washington Post released an in-depth report on the intelligence support the United States has provided Israel during its war with Hamas. The assistance has not only helped to find and rescue hostages, but the Post writes it has “also raised concerns about the use of sensitive information.”

The United States provided some of the intelligence used to locate and eventually rescue four Israeli hostages last week, The Post has reported. The information, which included overhead imagery, appears to have been secondary to what Israel collected on its own ahead of the operation, which resulted in the deaths of more than 270 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, making it one of the deadliest single events in the eight-month-old war.

Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, stressed that U.S. forces did not participate in the mission to rescue the four hostages. “There were no U.S. forces, no U.S. boots on the ground involved in this operation. We did not participate militarily in this operation,” Sullivan told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He noted that “we have generally provided support to the [Israel Defense Forces] so that we can try to get all of the hostages home, including the American hostages who are still being held.”

One critical piece of information from The Post involves a “canceled” U.S. mission to rescue eight Americans:

In October, JSOC forces in the region were prepared to deploy in Gaza to rescue U.S. citizens that Hamas was holding, said current and former U.S. officials familiar with planning for what would have been an exceptionally dangerous mission.

“If we managed to unilaterally get information that we could act on, and we thought we could actually get U.S. people out alive, we could act, but there was genuinely very little information specifically about U.S. hostages,” one official said.

However, the intelligence-sharing relationship between the United States and Israel is not without scrutiny and concern. The Post reports:

In interviews, Israeli officials said they were grateful for the U.S. assistance, which in some cases has given the Israelis unique capabilities they lacked before Hamas’s surprise cross-border attacks. But they also were defensive about their own spying prowess, insisting that the United States was, for the most part, not giving them anything they couldn’t obtain themselves. That position can be hard to square with the obvious failures of the Israeli intelligence apparatus to detect and respond to the warning signs of Hamas’s planning.

The U.S.-Israel partnership is, at times, tense. Some U.S. officials have been frustrated by Israel’s demand for more intelligence, which they said is insatiable and occasionally relies on flawed assumptions that the United States might be holding back some information.

In a briefing with reporters at the White House last month, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington “has provided an intense range of assets and capabilities and expertise.” Responding to a May 11 Washington Post report, Sullivan said that the intelligence is “not tied or conditioned on anything else. It is not limited. We are not holding anything back. We are providing every asset, every tool, every capability,” Sullivan said.

Other officials, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill, worry that intelligence the United States provides could be making its way into the repositories of data that Israeli military forces use to conduct airstrikes or other military operations, and that Washington has no effective means of monitoring how Israel uses the U.S. information.

The Biden administration has forbidden Israel from using any U.S.-supplied intelligence to target regular Hamas fighters in military operations. The intelligence is only to be used for locating the hostages, eight of whom have U.S. citizenship, as well as the top leadership of Hamas — including Yehiya Sinwar, the alleged architect of the Oct. 7 attacks, and Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s military wing. The State Department in 2015 designated both men as terrorists. Three of the eight U.S. hostages have been confirmed dead, and their bodies are still being held in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

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