US, UK strike Iran-linked Houthis in Yemen

The United States and Britain conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday. This operation, marking the second day of major U.S. actions against Iran-linked groups, follows a deadly attack on American troops last weekend.

The Pentagon reported that the strikes targeted buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems, launchers, and other capabilities used by the Houthis to attack Red Sea shipping, hitting 13 locations across Yemen.

This escalation in the Middle East follows the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas after the latter’s assault on Israel on Oct. 7. “This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Yahya Sarea, a Houthi military spokesperson, warned that the U.S. strikes “will not pass without a response and consequences.”

Concurrently, the U.S. is retaliating for the killing of three American soldiers in a drone strike by Iran-backed militants in Jordan. On Friday, the U.S. launched the first wave of this campaign, striking over 85 targets in Iraq and Syria linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its supported militias, reportedly killing nearly 40 people.

The U.S. accuses Iran-backed militias of attacking its troops in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. Meanwhile, Yemen’s Iran-linked Houthis have been targeting commercial and naval ships in the Red Sea. The U.S. and its allies consider these Houthi attacks indiscriminate and a threat to global trade.

Due to increasing violence in the Red Sea, major shipping lines are diverting from this critical trade route, opting for longer routes around Africa, thereby raising costs and fueling global inflation concerns. This shift also reduces Egypt’s foreign revenue from the Suez Canal.

The Biden administration’s strategy in Yemen seeks to weaken the Houthi militants without directly targeting Iran, the Houthis’ primary sponsor. This approach includes limited military strikes and sanctions, aiming to punish the Houthis while minimizing the risk of a broader Middle East conflict.

Despite more than a dozen U.S. strikes against Houthi targets in recent weeks, these efforts have not halted the group’s attacks.