The militaries of the United States and the United Kingdom are bombing Houthi militants in Yemen in retaliation for months of hijackings and attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The assault included Tomahawk missiles fired by warships and submarines as well as fighter jet strikes, according to American officials.

The US Air Force struck over 60 targets, including “command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defense radar systems” across 16 sites in Yemen. The attack was a long time coming, as it was announced about three weeks ago that the US had assembled a 10-nation coalition to confront the Houthis (who had also attacked an American warship).

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In an official statement, President Joe Biden said the strikes were meant to show that America and its allies “will not tolerate” the Houthi attacks. Biden went on:

“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… More than 50 nations have been affected in 27 attacks on international commercial shipping. Crews from more than 20 countries have been threatened or taken hostage in acts of piracy… I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

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Biden noted that Houthi attacks were putting the lives of merchant mariners and American Navy sailors in danger, also pointing out that global trade itself is being disrupted, which threatens catastrophic economic consequences.

According to analysts interviewed by Al Jazeera, the Houthis “will not be deterred” by these attacks, and might only be emboldened by them. As the Houthis have been attacking the ships to show symbolic support for Hamas in their war against Israel, a backlash from Western powers may not undermine their attacks. Experts also add that the militant group could receive international recognition through a conflict with the US, which it desperately needs as it aims to gain legitimacy as the ruling power in Yemen.

The Houthis launched their biggest attack yet in the Red Sea on January 10th, forcing the US and the UK to counter 21 drones and missiles. The United Nations Security Council responded with a formal resolution of condemnation of the Houthis, which only raised their notoriety. “The Houthis actually won that confrontation the day they started it,” said Abdulghani al-Iryani, a senior researcher with the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.

Shane Devine is a writer covering politics, economics, and culture for Valuetainment. Follow Shane on X (Twitter).

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