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US and UK Launch Strikes Against Houthi Rebels in Yemen

Houthi Rebels Yemen
An F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jet takes off the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Arabian Gulf. Credit: U.S. Navy

US and UK forces have carried out air strikes against Houthi rebel targets in Yemen in response to attacks by the Iranian-backed group on ships in the Red Sea since November.

Aircraft bombed more than a dozen sites used by Houthis in Yemen, in a massive retaliatory strike using warship-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets, several US officials told the Associated Press. The military targets included logistical hubs, air defense systems, and weapons storage locations, they said.

President Biden says the strikes were meant to demonstrate that the US and its allies “will not tolerate” the militant group’s ceaseless attacks on the Red Sea.

“These strikes are in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea—including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history,” Biden said in a statement.

“These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation,” Biden stated.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Houthi attacks were disrupting trade, driving up commodity prices, and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

“Despite the repeated warnings from the international community, the Houthis have continued to carry out attacks in the Red Sea, including against UK and US warships just this week. This cannot stand,” Sunak said in a statement announcing strikes by the Royal Air Force.

The US and UK strikes came after Iranian forces seized the Greek-owned oil tanker St. Nikolas off the coast of Oman on Thursday. Athens-based Empire Navigation acknowledged losing contact with the vessel, which had a crew of eighteen Filipinos and one Greek national.

Moreover, on Thursday, Houthi forces fired an anti-ship missile from Yemen into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.

US Central Command said it was the twenty-seventh attack by the Houthis on international shipping in the past two months.

Houthi rebels in Yemen remain defiant

Houthi leader Mohammed al-Bukhaiti has threatened that the US and UK would “soon realize” that strikes on Yemen were “the greatest folly in their history.”

“America and Britain made a mistake in launching the war on Yemen because they did not benefit from their previous experiences,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Every individual in this world is faced with two choices,” he added. “Either to stand with the victims of genocide or to stand with its perpetrators.”

Iran said on Friday it condemns the US-Britain attack on Houthis in Yemen, warning that it would fuel “insecurity and instability” in the region, Iranian state media reported.

“We strongly condemn the military attacks carried out this morning by the United States and the United Kingdom on several cities in Yemen,” said Nasser Kannani, spokesperson at Iran’s foreign ministry.

“These attacks are a clear violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and a breach of international laws,” he added.

Disruption of world trade

Much of the world’s oil and natural gas comes from the region, and the Red Sea is used to transport roughly fifteen percent of the world’s shipping traffic.

With Houthis attacking twenty-seven ships since the war in Gaza erupted, trade flows have been hit at a time when supply strains and low demand are putting pressure on prices globally.

Some major shipping lines and oil giant BP have already diverted vessels around southern Africa, adding time and costs to journeys rather than risk the Red Sea.

If the crisis continues, the increased costs of oil and goods may be passed on to consumers in stores and at the petrol pump.

Related: Greece Sends Frigate to the Red Sea to Protect Shipping

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