Biden says US strikes on Houthis in Yemen have not stopped Red Sea attacks
Houthi forces initiated a fresh missile assault on a US-owned vessel on Thursday, following President Joe Biden’s acknowledgment that American airstrikes have not dissuaded the militants’ activities in the Red Sea.
The Pentagon reported no damage or injuries after the Houthis launched two missiles at the MV Chem Ranger. This attack occurred subsequent to the fifth round of US strikes in Yemen earlier that day.
The White House stated that US forces successfully neutralized a variety of Houthi missiles intended for the Red Sea.
Responding to questions in Washington DC after the US strikes, President Biden conceded that the attacks on Houthi targets were not deterring them, stating, “Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes.”
The US Central Command, responsible for overseeing US operations in the Middle East, released a statement revealing that it had “conducted strikes on two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed into the Southern Red Sea and were prepared to launch” on Thursday.
The statement emphasized that the identified missiles posed an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region, leading to a defensive strike to destroy them.
During a later briefing, Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh asserted, “We do not seek war.”
“We are not at war with the Houthis. Actions we are taking are defensive.”
Centcom also confirmed the attempted attack on the MV Chem Ranger. Officials said two anti-ship missiles were fired at the Marshall Island-flagged, US-owned ship, but both fell short of the vessel.
Yemen’s military spokesperson earlier released a statement saying that there had been “direct hits” to the ship.
A US-owned vessel was also hit on Wednesday, hours after Washington re-designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization.
In a fiery speech on Thursday, the leader of the Houthis called it a “great honor” to be “in confrontation” with Israel, the US, and the UK.
“The aggression against our dear people is a violation, aggression, a direct encroachment of the sovereignty of Yemen, and a direct assault on the Yemeni people”, said Abdul Malik al-Houthi.
The Houthis began attacking merchant vessels in November, saying they were responding to Israel’s military operation in Gaza. Since then, the group has launched dozens of attacks on commercial tankers passing through the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
In response, the US and UK launched a wave of air strikes against dozens of Houthi targets on 11 January. The strikes – supported by Australia, Bahrain, the Netherlands, and Canada – began after Houthi forces ignored an ultimatum to cease attacks in the region.