International Retaliation: U.S. and U.K. Strike Iranian-Backed Militants in Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen – In response to weeks of warnings, the United States and the United Kingdom launched a series of missile strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on early Friday. The strikes came after the Houthis launched a significant attack, consisting of 18 one-way attack drones, anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile on international commercial vessels and warships in the Red Sea. While the previous restraint from the U.S. reflected its concerns about destabilizing the truce in Yemen, the severity of Tuesday’s attack left little choice but to respond.

The U.S. and the U.K. targeted Houthi missile, radar, and drone capabilities to undermine their ability to carry out further attacks. In retaliation, the militant group has already vowed to respond. Now, let’s delve into who the Houthis are and why the U.S. has chosen to bomb certain Iranian-linked targets.

Houthi rebels emerged in 2014 when they seized the capital, Sanaa. Since then, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting to reinstate Yemen’s exiled government. This conflict has transformed into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, resulting in widespread hunger and misery for the Yemeni people. The war has claimed the lives of over 150,000 individuals and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The Houthis have sporadically targeted ships in the region, but their attacks have increased recently, especially after an explosion in a Gaza hospital in October. These attacks have damaged commercial ships and forced companies to redirect their vessels. The Pentagon reported that the Houthis have launched 27 attacks on vessels transiting the Southern Red Sea. However, the connection between these attacks and Israel remains uncertain.

While the U.S. has carried out airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria that have targeted American troops, it had been reluctant to retaliate against the Houthis until now. The Biden administration’s hesitation is due to concerns about disrupting the fragile truce in Yemen and provoking a broader conflict. However, the recent strikes suggest a shift in the U.S. calculus.

The protection of free navigation in the seas has been a consistent goal for the U.S., but the Houthi attacks have raised concerns. The International Maritime Security Construct has advised ships to avoid Yemeni waters, travel at night, and avoid stopping to minimize the risk of being targeted.

In conclusion, the U.S. and the U.K. have launched missile strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to their escalating attacks on international commercial vessels. The strikes aim to disable the Houthi’s weapon capabilities. The situation in Yemen remains tense, and the international community is closely monitoring any potential escalation.