(Bloomberg) -- US officials believe that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are pursuing international partnerships with other militant groups as part of their campaign to disrupt global shipping and protest the Israel-Hamas war. 

Those efforts have already produced results through a nascent partnership with the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab in Somalia, according to senior US defense officials who asked not to be identified discussing private assessments. 

The Houthi push is likely a result of the group’s desire to be taken more seriously around the world and to demonstrate that it can hold US and UK vessels at risk, the officials said. It is more likely to be a partnership of convenience than a result of ideological common ground between the two groups, the officials said. 

The US government believes the Houthis seek to develop other partners in addition to al-Shabab, but it is not yet aware of other successful cases. The officials declined to provide more detail on the partnership with the Somali militant group, citing the need to protect intelligence sources and methods. 

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Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea led to a 90% decline in container shipping through the area between December and February, US intelligence officials said this week in their first formal assessment of the rebel campaign’s economic impact. 

The attacks have affected at least 65 countries and forced at least 29 major energy and shipping companies to alter their routes.

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