A day after US air strikes against pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria, US and British forces jointly shelled Houthi positions in Yemen. With the help of other countries, 36 targets of the Houthi militia, which is also supported by Iran, were attacked in 13 locations in Yemen, the US Department of Defense announced in Washington. It is the third joint British-American military operation against the Houthis in recent weeks. It follows extensive American retaliation against militias in Iraq and Syria the night before. The rapid succession of military actions shows the US's efforts to put an end to the increasing chaos in the Middle East.
Since the beginning of the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas, the Houthis have repeatedly targeted merchant ships in the Red Sea. The militia is acting in solidarity with Hamas and is targeting freighters with alleged Israeli connections off the Yemeni coast. Given the dangers, major shipping companies are increasingly avoiding the shortest sea route between Asia and Europe through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. This is now having a significant impact on the global economy.
The action against the Houthis
In addition to the USA and Great Britain, Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands supported the campaign, it said. The declared goal of the USA and its partners is to weaken the military capabilities of the militant Islamist Houthis and thus protect the important shipping route.
In a joint statement by the countries involved, it was said that the targets attacked in Yemen included weapons depots, missile systems and launchers and air defense systems. The Houthi attacks on merchant and naval ships are an international challenge.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a written statement: "This joint action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will face further consequences if they do not cease their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels." He stressed: "We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce on one of the world's most important waterways."
British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the military operation was not an escalation of the situation. Rather, innocent lives should be protected and freedom of navigation on the Red Sea preserved. A statement from the British Ministry of Defense said that the air strikes in the evening were carefully planned to keep the risk of civilian casualties as low as possible.
As with previous US strikes against targets in Yemen, the Houthis reiterated that they would continue their attacks in the region. The bombings "will not change our position," said Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the militant Houthi movement's Politburo. “We will respond to escalation with escalation.”
Cameron calls on Houthis to end their attacks
After the new attacks by the USA and Great Britain on Houthi positions in Yemen, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has called on the Islamist militia to end their attacks on merchant ships. “We have repeatedly issued warnings against the Houthis,” wrote Cameron on Sunday on the online service X (formerly Twitter). “Their reckless actions endanger the lives of innocent people, threaten freedom of navigation and destabilize the region.” The former prime minister emphasized: "The Houthi attacks must stop."
Retaliation in Iraq and Syria
The action against the Houthis followed a major military strike by the Americans the day before. On Saturday night, the US military carried out extensive air strikes against pro-Iranian militia positions in Iraq and Syria. US forces bombed more than 85 targets from the air at seven locations in both countries - including command centers, intelligence sites and weapons depots that, according to US information, were used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and militias affiliated with them. The USA was reacting to a deadly attack by pro-Iranian militias a few days earlier in which three American soldiers were killed in Jordan near the Syrian border.
US President Joe Biden had promised retaliation for the deaths of US soldiers and made it clear after the air strikes on Saturday night that this was just the beginning and that further military actions would follow. At the same time, Biden emphasized that the United States does not want a new conflict in the Middle East.
Since the start of the Gaza war, pro-Iranian militias have carried out almost daily attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria. The US government has previously responded with air strikes in both countries - although on a smaller scale than the concerted action this weekend.