US, UK Military Intensifies Strikes Against Houthi Rebels In Yemen

U.S. and British forces executed strikes against over a dozen Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday, marking the latest move in the ongoing military efforts against the Iran-linked group responsible for persistent attacks on shipping in the region.

The United States has been conducting nearly daily strikes against the Houthi rebels, who hold sway over the most densely populated regions of Yemen. The group claims its attacks on shipping are a show of solidarity with Palestinians during Israel’s operations in Gaza. Despite these strikes, the Houthi assaults persist, disrupting global trade and elevating shipping rates.

A joint statement from nations involved in or supporting the strikes revealed that the military action targeted 18 Houthi locations across eight sites in Yemen. The strikes aimed at underground weapons and missile storage facilities, air defence systems, radars, and a helicopter.

U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin explained that the intent behind the strikes was “to further disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.” He emphasized the consequences the Houthis would face if they continued their illegal attacks, affecting Middle Eastern economies, causing environmental damage, and impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other regions.

Countries supporting the strikes included Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Al Masirah TV, the primary news outlet aligned with the Houthi movement, reported that U.S. and UK forces carried out a series of strikes in the capital, Sanaa. According to an unnamed Houthi military source, these renewed attacks were perceived as “a miserable attempt to prevent Yemen from providing support operations to the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

In the preceding week, the Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack on a UK-owned cargo ship, a drone assault on a U.S. destroyer, and targeted Israel’s port and resort city of Eilat with ballistic missiles and drones.

The continuous Houthi strikes have disrupted the crucial Suez Canal, which facilitates about 12% of global maritime traffic, necessitating longer and costlier routes around Africa. While no ships have been sunk, concerns linger regarding the fate of the UK-registered Rubymar cargo vessel, struck on Feb. 18, carrying over 41,000 tons of fertilizer. The potential spill could lead to an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

Responding to the situation, the European Union initiated a naval mission in the Red Sea to “restore and safeguard freedom of navigation.” Simultaneously, the United States is running Operation Prosperity Guardian, a coalition aimed at protecting commercial traffic from Houthi attacks.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi