US, UK Launch Massive Airstrike Against Yemen

( – In the early hours of Friday, the United States and the United Kingdom jointly executed a series of airstrikes on military installations associated with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. This military action was undertaken in response to the persistent attacks carried out by the Houthi militants on vessels navigating through the Red Sea.

The strikes, conducted with precision and coordination, targeted more than a dozen Houthi locations, utilizing air, surface, and subsurface platforms. Notably, this military initiative received support from allied nations, including Australia, the Netherlands, Bahrain, and Canada. The United Kingdom contributed aircraft to the operation, as confirmed by a U.S. defense official.

President Joe Biden, in a statement following the strikes, asserted that he had authorized the military action in direct response to the unprecedented and alarming Houthi attacks on international maritime vessels in the Red Sea. These attacks, he emphasized, included the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles—an unprecedented development in the region’s history. President Biden underscored the imminent threat posed by these Houthi attacks, putting U.S. personnel and its allies in jeopardy and endangering the freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes.

The President conveyed a resolute message, stating, “These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical commercial routes.” He further affirmed his commitment to taking any necessary measures to safeguard the people and ensure the unimpeded flow of international commerce.

Interestingly, the strikes were executed with strategic support from a coalition of nations, highlighting the international concern over the escalating situation. A joint statement released by the governments of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, and others emphasized that the objective of the strikes was to disrupt and degrade the capabilities employed by the Houthis to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners in the critical waterways of the Red Sea.

The anticipation of the military intervention prompted the Houthi forces to take precautionary measures, including the transportation and fortification of weapons and equipment. Reports from the Wall Street Journal, citing a U.S. defense official, indicated that Houthi militants were evacuating the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. The leader of the Houthi group, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, issued a televised speech on Thursday, warning of a substantial response to any U.S. attack on Yemen’s Houthis, surpassing the magnitude of their recent strike involving drones and missiles targeting a U.S. ship in the Red Sea.

The political leadership in the United Kingdom, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was briefed on the imminent military intervention. Furthermore, British media reported that key political figures, such as the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, and the speaker of the House of Commons, were briefed by the government on the situation.

The timing of these airstrikes is notable, coming shortly after the White House called a lid on President Biden’s public engagements for the evening. It is also worth mentioning that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s whereabouts were not communicated to the president or other officials during his stay in the ICU at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The joint military action follows the seizure of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman by Iranian forces earlier on Thursday. The seized vessel, en route to Turkey, was intercepted and boarded by Iranian naval forces, as reported by Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder.

A notable voice in the discourse, Richard Goldberg, a Senior Adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former National Security Council official, raised critical questions regarding the administration’s approach. He emphasized the need for a strategic shift in dealing with Iran and its proxies, posing questions about the listing of Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization and the freezing of funds for Iran. The broader implications of targeting IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) in Yemen and Iran’s intelligence cargo ship were also brought into focus, underlining the significance of understanding the policy framework and its potential impact on restoring deterrence.

The roots of the conflict trace back to the Houthi militants’ intensified attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea in recent weeks, driven by their opposition to Israel’s actions in Gaza. This has led to the suspension of operations by various shipping lines, opting for longer journeys around Africa to avoid the heightened risk in the Red Sea region.

A joint statement issued by fourteen countries, including the United States, last week warned the Houthis, stating, “The Houthis will bear the responsibility for the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, or the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.” The U.S. military reported that the Houthis, on Thursday, executed their 27th attack on shipping since November 19, firing an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.

Earlier in the week, U.S. and British naval forces intercepted and neutralized drones and missiles launched by the Houthis towards the southern Red Sea, responding to an attack on the Royal Navy warship HMS Diamond.

The Houthi rebels, who gained control of significant parts of Yemen during a civil war, have explicitly declared their intent to target ships associated with Israel or destined for Israeli ports. However, it is noteworthy that many of the vessels targeted had no direct connections to Israel, raising questions about the precision and rationale behind the Houthi attacks.

As the international community closely monitors the developments in the aftermath of these airstrikes, the multifaceted nature of the conflict involving geopolitical alliances, regional tensions, and maritime security underscores the complexity of the situation. The coming days are likely to witness diplomatic efforts, security assessments, and a nuanced evaluation of the potential repercussions, as stakeholders grapple with the evolving dynamics in the Red Sea region.