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Friday, May 24, 2024

US and Britain initiate airstrikes on Houthi military

The U.S. and British forces aimed to weaken the Houthis' military capabilities, particularly their ability to threaten merchant shipping.

The United States and Britain initiated airstrikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen in response to the movement’s attacks on ships in the Red Sea. This move represents a notable expansion of the conflict beyond the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, with implications for regional stability and international maritime security.

Houthi Attacks and International Response

The Houthi movement, controlling most of Yemen, has defied international calls to cease missile and drone attacks on Red Sea shipping routes. These attacks, reportedly in support of Hamas, have disrupted key maritime routes responsible for approximately 15% of the world’s shipping traffic. Despite warnings from the United States and the UN, the Houthis persisted in their assaults, prompting the recent military response.

Read More: Houthi leader vows ‘American aggression’ against our forces will not go unpunished

The Strikes

The airstrikes, conducted from both air and sea, targeted Houthi capabilities, including drones, ballistic and cruise missiles, coastal radar, and air surveillance. The U.S. and British forces aimed to weaken the Houthis’ military capabilities, particularly their ability to threaten merchant shipping. President Joe Biden emphasized that these targeted strikes send a clear message that the U.S. and its partners will not tolerate attacks on their personnel or threats to freedom of navigation.

Houthi Response and International Support

Houthi officials condemned the airstrikes as “American-Zionist-British aggression,” confirming raids in various Yemeni cities. Witnesses reported strikes on military bases, airports, and naval facilities. Meanwhile, President Biden highlighted the international support for the operation, with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands backing the response to the Houthi attacks.

Escalation or Deterrence?

While the U.S. military asserted that the aim of the strikes was to remove Houthi capabilities targeting maritime vessels, concerns have been raised about potential escalation. Some Democrats in Congress expressed apprehension about the U.S. getting entangled in another long-term conflict, while Republicans welcomed the move, albeit describing it as overdue.

Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised the strike as a “good first step toward restoring deterrence in the Red Sea.” The strikes come after the Houthis’ largest attack on January 9, which prompted U.S. and British naval forces to intercept 21 Houthi drones and missiles in a complex attack.

Read More: 3 Houthi boats destroyed by US Navy

In December, over 20 countries had agreed to participate in Operation Prosperity Guardian, a U.S.-led coalition aimed at safeguarding commercial traffic in the Red Sea. However, the recent airstrikes by the U.S. and the UK occurred outside the scope of this defensive coalition. The international community, according to President Biden, has shown a united and resolute response to these “reckless attacks.”