“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea,” the statement said, “but let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”
The U.S. military assessed the strikes had “good impacts” at all eight locations and destroyed the missiles, drones and weapons storage facilities that were targeted, the official said.
However, the official acknowledged that Houthi attacks could continue. While the U.S. assesses the recent strikes have “removed significant Houthi capability, that does not mean they have no more capability,” the official said.
This is the second time U.S. and U.K. forces have conducted joint air and missile strikes on the Houthis in Yemen since the group began attacking international shipping in November. The two militaries, with support from Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and Bahrain launched strikes
for the first time on Jan. 11, after the Houthis ignored weeks of warnings by Washington and its allies to stop the attacks. That strike targeted Houthi coastal and air surveillance radars, as well as storage facilities.
Since Jan. 11, the U.S. military has launched multiple rounds of smaller-scale strikes against the “imminent threat” from Houthi anti-ship missile sites that were preparing to fire against international shipping over the past week, according to the Pentagon. But those strikes have failed to deter the militants from continuing to attack commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Since Nov. 19, Houthi rebels have launched attacks on at least 33 commercial vessels using a range of weapons, including cruise and ballistic missiles, drones and rockets, according to a senior DOD official. The threat to shipping in one of the world’s most vital trade arteries has had a significant impact on the global economy, leading more than 14 shipping companies to halt Red Sea operations.
The Houthis have in recent days started directly targeting U.S. commercial ships and warships, including a Jan. 14 attack on the destroyer USS Laboon, said the senior DOD official.
Monday’s strikes were launched from jets, warships and submarines, and included Tomahawk missiles, U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and aircraft from the U.K. armed forces, according to the first senior military official.
President Joe Biden and his top aides have repeatedly said strikes on Houthi targets alone won’t stop the Iran-backed militants from threatening commercial ships in the Middle East.
When asked by a reporter last week if the airstrikes were working, Biden responded “Well, when you say ‘working,’ are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”
Administration officials say it could take weeks, maybe months, to apply the necessary military, economic and diplomatic pressure to force the Houthis to change course.
An end to the war between Israel and Hamas, or at least a slowdown in fighting, could weaken the Houthis’ case for endangering global shipping in regional waters.