The United States and Britain conducted strikes on 36 Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday, as part of a second wave of assaults aimed at disabling Iran-backed groups that have been targeting American and international interests following the Israel-Hamas conflict. Despite the ongoing attacks, Washington opted not to target Iran directly, aiming to strike a balance between a robust response and avoiding escalation.
According to U.S. Central Command, an additional strike was carried out on Sunday in self-defense against a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile poised for launch against ships in the Red Sea. The strikes on Saturday targeted Houthi positions across 13 locations and were executed by U.S. warships and American and British fighter jets. These actions came after an airstrike in Iraq and Syria on Friday, which targeted other Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan.
The strikes aimed to deter further aggression from the Houthis, who have been conducting frequent missile and drone attacks against commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. While there’s no direct evidence linking the Houthis to the attack in Jordan, they have remained a key adversary for the U.S. since the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Despite international pressure, the Houthis have shown no signs of scaling back their campaign. Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a Houthi official, emphasized their commitment to continuing military operations against Israel until the situation in Gaza improves. He also warned of retaliatory measures against American and British aggression.
The Biden administration has signaled that these strikes may not be the last, as the U.S. holds Iran responsible for supporting various militias across the Middle East. The Defense Department stated that the strikes targeted Houthi weapons facilities, missile systems, air defense systems, and other military assets.
The joint operation with support from allied nations underscores the message to Iran regarding its support for militias across the region. The strikes have disrupted shipping routes in the Red Sea, leading to the rerouting of vessels and increased security measures in the region.
In response to the strikes, Iraqi militia spokesperson Hussein al-Mosawi expressed concerns about escalating tensions but also indicated a desire to avoid further conflict. Iraqi officials have condemned the U.S. strikes as a violation of sovereignty and have called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops involved in anti-ISIS efforts.
Efforts to de-escalate tensions and wind down the coalition’s presence in Iraq are underway, although this process is expected to take several years.
Written By: Himanshu Mahawar