U.S. affirms next attack on another site under Houthi control

In a decisive move, the U.S. government has officially affirmed its intention to launch another targeted strike on a site under Houthi control. Tensions rise as the conflict escalates in the volatile region.

The U.S. military attacked another Houthi-controlled location in Yemen early on Saturday, one day after it and Britain conducted several airstrikes against the rebel group, believing it to be endangering commercial ships in the Red Sea.

One loud explosion was heard by Associated Press journalists in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

The Navy destroyer USS Carney used Tomahawk land attack missiles to carry out the “follow-on action” against a Houthi radar site early on Saturday local time, according to U.S. Central Command.

On Friday, the first day of strikes, 28 locations and over 60 targets were hit. On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a warning that the Houthis might be subject to more strikes.

Following the first round of airstrikes on Friday, the U.S. Navy issued a 72-hour warning to American-flagged vessels to avoid areas near Yemen in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. This warning preceded the latest strike. The warning was given as the Houthis in Yemen threatened severe reprisals, increasing the likelihood of more fighting in an area already troubled by Israel’s war in Gaza.

Officials from the White House and the U.S. military stated that they anticipated a counterattack from the Houthis.

At least five people were killed and six injured by the U.S.-led bombardment, which was carried out in retaliation for a recent campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in the strategically important Red Sea, according to the Houthis. According to the United States, the two waves of strikes targeted 28 distinct targets spread throughout Yemeni regions under Houthi control.

“We will make sure that we respond to the Houthis if they continue this outrageous behaviour along with our allies,” Biden told reporters during a stop in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.

When asked if he thought the Houthis were a terrorist organization, Biden said, “I think they are.” Afterwards, during a stop in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the president spoke with reporters and declared that it did not matter if the Houthis were reclassified as such.

Additionally, Biden retaliated against certain lawmakers—both Democrats and Republicans—who claimed he ought to have waited for legislative approval before executing the strikes.

According to the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave the order for military action while he was being treated at a hospital for complications following surgery for prostate cancer.

When the Houthis started attacking civilian vessels in November, the White House announced that it was thinking about classifying them as terrorists. President Donald Trump’s action was reversed when the administration formally delisted the Houthis as a “foreign terrorist organization” and “specially designated global terrorists” in 2021.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff director, Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, stated that the majority of the American strikes on Friday occurred in sparsely populated areas and that the death toll would be relatively low. According to him, the strikes struck targets, radar, and weaponry, even in isolated mountain regions.

The world’s attention was drawn back to Yemen’s protracted conflict, which started when the Houthis took control of the nation’s capital, as the bombing illuminated the predawn sky over several locations controlled by the rebels supported by Iran.

The rebels have been launching repeated attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November, claiming they were retaliating against Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza. However, they have regularly targeted ships that have hazy or unclear ties to Israel, endangering shipping along a vital route for shipments of energy and other goods throughout the world.

In a recorded speech, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, the military spokesman for the Houthis, declared that the American strikes would “not go unanswered or unpunished.”

The strikes posed a threat to start a wider conflict, despite weeks of efforts by the Biden administration and its allies to defuse tensions in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, which backs the government-in-exile that the Houthis are opposing, moved swiftly to disassociate itself from the assaults to preserve its tenuous détente with Iran and the cease-fire it has established in Yemen. More than 150,000 people have died in the Saudi-led, American-backed war in Yemen, including combatants and civilians. Tens of thousands more have perished in one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in history.

The extent of the damage caused by Friday’s strikes was still unknown, but the Houthis claimed that at least five locations, including airfields, had been targeted. According to the White House, the American military was still determining how much the militants’ capabilities may have been compromised.

The UK claimed that strikes had destroyed an airfield in Abbs that was used to launch drones and cruise missiles, as well as a location in Bani that the Houthis were reportedly using to launch drones.

A video showing Iran’s capture of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman—which was previously the subject of a dispute between Washington and Tehran—was made public in a separate development.

A helicopter can be seen hovering over the St. Nikolas’ deck in the video. The Iranian navy captured the ship on Thursday. The Suez Rajan was the previous name of the ship. On the ship last year, the United States took one million barrels of Iranian oil that was under sanctions.

Hundreds of people rallied on Friday in Saada, the Houthi stronghold in northwest Yemen, criticizing Israel and the United States. In the capital, Sanaa, thousands attended another.

Approximately two-thirds of Yemen’s 34 million people live in territory currently held by the Houthis. Yemen is among the poorest Arab nations due to war and mismanagement, and the vast majority of Yemenis are deemed food insecure by the World Food Program.

During the last four U.S. presidents, Yemen has been the target of U.S. military action. Drone attacks against the local al-Qaida affiliate were started under President George W. Bush and have continued under President Biden. Amidst the ongoing conflict, the United States has conducted military operations and raids in Yemen.

In 2014, when the Houthis overran Sanaa, the war broke out. To support Yemen’s exiled government, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and comprising the United Arab Emirates began a war in 2015. However, as Iran began providing the Houthis with weapons and other forms of support, the conflict swiftly turned into a regional conflict.

But as the Houthis hold onto the territory they control, the fighting has slowed. To eventually leave the war, Saudi Arabia signed a deal in March to reestablish relations with Iran, mediated by China.

Iran denounced the attack on Friday in a statement issued by Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States, United Kingdom, and allies of “blatant armed aggression” against Yemen at a late-night emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday. He also issued a warning, saying that “if the escalation continues, the entire Middle East could encounter a catastrophe.”

The attacks were in self-defence, according to U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward. “So de-escalation needs to happen,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The Houthis, who are endangering all of our shipping lines, must take action.”