Red Sea Showdown: US, UK Launch Precision Strikes on Houthi Militants

Red Sea Showdown: US, UK Launch Precision Strikes on Houthi Militants

In response to continued Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, the U.S. military, in collaboration with the United Kingdom and support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, has initiated substantial retaliatory strikes in Yemen. The strikes, characterized as a “defensive action” by President Joe Biden, targeted multiple Houthi positions using a combination of fighter jets and Tomahawk cruise missiles, including those launched from the U.S. Navy submarine USS Florida.

Red Sea Showdown Strikes on Houthi Militants
In this file image, courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class Kallysta M Castillo/U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile at a target in Syria from the US 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, April 14, 2018.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images, FILE

The decision to undertake these strikes came after months of Houthi assaults on commercial shipping, posing a threat to freedom of navigation in the critical Red Sea waterways. The attacks, which included the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles, prompted a joint statement from the U.S. and other nations, warning the Houthis of consequences.

Red Sea Showdown Strikes on Houthi Militants
A locator map for Yemen with its capital, Sanaa.
AP

The Houthis, backed by Iran, persisted in their attacks, leading to the recent large-scale retaliatory strikes. The U.S. and the UK coordinated efforts to counter Houthi threats, with the United Kingdom stressing the importance of defending freedom of navigation and trade.

Red Sea Showdown Strikes on Houthi Militants
Yemeni protestors loyal to the Houthi movement lift their rifles as they participate in a protest held against Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza and threats of the U.S. and UK amid U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s warning of a military response to rebel attacks in the Red Sea on Jan. 11, 2024 in Sanaa, Yemen.
Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

The attacks had a significant impact on global commerce, causing some shipping companies to reroute vessels to avoid the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial waterway where 15% of the world’s commerce passes. The Houthis, in control of parts of Yemen since 2014, have demonstrated a willingness to extend their conflicts beyond Yemen’s borders.

Red Sea Showdown Strikes on Houthi Militants
An RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to join the U.S.-led coalition from RAF Akrotiri to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, in Cyprus, in this handout picture released on Jan. 12, 2024.
UK MOD Handout via Reuters

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, despite health complications, emphasized the right to self-defense and the possibility of additional actions to protect U.S. forces if necessary. The strikes targeted various Houthi capabilities, including unmanned aerial vehicles, uncrewed surface vessels, land-attack cruise missiles, and coastal radar and air surveillance.

The situation led to a statement from British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, underscoring the UK’s commitment to defending freedom of navigation. The strikes hit multiple targets, including locations in Yemen’s capital, San’a. Houthi Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein al-Ezzi condemned the attack, warning of consequences for the U.S. and the UK. The international community closely watches developments as tensions in the region continue to escalate.

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Emily Johnson

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