Yemen In a significant development, U.S. warplanes, ships, and submarines, joined by British fighters, launched strikes on Thursday against sites linked to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The move comes in response to repeated Houthi attacks involving drones and missiles targeting Red Sea shipping lanes.
International Coalition Support
President Joe Biden confirmed the operation, highlighting the involvement of the United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands. The strikes, aimed at countering Houthi threats to maritime vessels, represent a united and resolute response from the international community.
Defense Secretary’s Approval: Yemen
Despite Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization, he approved the strikes, emphasizing the U.S. right to self-defense. The targeted Houthi capabilities included unmanned aerial vehicles, ballistic and cruise missiles, and coastal radar and air surveillance systems.
Prompted by Tuesday’s Attack
The decision to take military action was prompted by a major Houthi attack on Tuesday, involving 20 drones and multiple missiles targeting U.S. navy ships in the Red Sea. Successful defense by U.S. and British naval forces prevented potential damage to U.S. ships and a commercial vessel carrying jet fuel.
Focused Operation with Limited Collateral Damage
The operation aimed to degrade Houthi military capabilities while minimizing collateral damage. The U.S. and coalition forces have not observed a response from the Houthis following the strikes.
International Coalition Participation
The United Kingdom Royal Air Force participated in the operation, emphasizing the commitment to defending freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade. Houthi attacks have disrupted commercial shipping in the Red Sea, impacting trade routes between Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Broader U.S. Involvement in the Middle East
While the U.S. has sought to contain conflicts to Gaza, increased attacks by Iranian-backed groups in the region have led to a broader U.S. involvement in the Middle East. The international community, expressing solidarity, includes Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Criticism and Congressional Approval
Criticism has emerged, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations stating that the strikes on Yemen escalate the conflict and risk broader war, emphasizing the need for congressional approval.