Yemen | US strikes Houthi rebels again

(Sanaa) The American army carried out new strikes on Saturday against Houthi rebel sites in Yemen after the latter increased their threats against international maritime traffic in the Red Sea.

Early Saturday, the Houthi channel, al-Masirah, reported strikes on at least one site in the capital Sanaa. “The American-British enemy is targeting the capital, Sanaa, with a (certain) number of raids,” al-Masirah communicated on his X account (formerly Twitter), quoting his correspondent in the city.

Then, the United States Central Military Command (CENTCOM) confirmed a US strike around 3:45 a.m. local Saturday (7:45 p.m. Eastern Time) “against a radar site in Yemen.”

Early Friday, American and British strikes targeted military sites held by the Houthis, who control large areas of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, reigniting fears of a regional spillover of the war in Gaza triggered by the attack without precedent carried out by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Israeli soil on October 7.


The aftermath of an airstrike on a radar site near the international airport in Sanaa, Yemen, January 12, 2024, after airstrikes carried out by the United States and Britain.

US President Joe Biden had threatened the Houthis with further strikes on rebel positions if the latter did not stop their firing in the Red Sea.

Houthi rebels have threatened to retaliate against strikes carried out on Friday by the United States and the United Kingdom in Yemen by attacking the interests of these two countries, now considered “legitimate targets”.

However, after the British and American strikes on Friday, the Houthis fired “at least one missile” which did not, however, hit any ship, the American army indicated before the Saturday morning strike carried out by the destroyer USS Carney using Tomahawk missiles.

At the UN, Secretary General Antonio Guterres had earlier called on “all parties concerned to avoid escalation (…) in the interest of peace and stability in the Red Sea and the wider region”, according to its spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on “all parties” to avoid “escalation” following strikes by the United States and the United Kingdom against the Houthis in Yemen.

Multiple strikes

The Houthi movement is part of the “axis of resistance” established by Iran, which brings together groups hostile to Israel in the region, notably Lebanese Hezbollah and armed groups in Iraq and Syria.

Friday’s American and British strikes, “73 raids”, targeted military sites in Sanaa and in the governorates of Hodeida (west), Taiz (south), Hajjah (north-west) and Saada (north), said more earlier the military spokesperson of the Houthis while the American army had mentioned 30 military positions targeted out of a total of more than 150 strikes.

Joe Biden spoke for his part of an operation carried out “successfully”, evoking a “defensive” action to protect international trade in particular.

Blaming the Houthis for having ignored “repeated warnings from the international community”, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the strikes as “necessary (…) measures in self-defense”.

In a joint statement, Washington, London and eight of their allies including Australia, Canada and Bahrain stressed that their objective was “de-escalation” in the Red Sea.

But in Moscow, the Kremlin condemned Western strikes “illegitimate from the point of view of international law”, just like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking of a “disproportionate” response.

And at a meeting of the UN Security Council, Russia’s representative, Vassili Nebenzia, denounced a “blatant aggression” and a “massive strike” against “the population of the country as a whole”.

American Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that no ship was safe from the threat.

“We cannot tolerate thugs harassing international transport,” British Defense Minister Grant Shapps told the Telegraph, calling on Iran to ensure that its “proxies” in the region, such as the Houthis or Hezbollah, “cease their activities”.

During an interview with Liu Jianchao, head of the international division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken stressed “the importance of maintaining and defending the rights and freedoms of navigation in Red Sea” while avoiding “a further escalation”.

12% of world trade

The Houthi attacks, carried out with missiles and drones, have pushed many shipowners to abandon the Red Sea corridor between Europe and Asia, at the cost of an increase in transport costs and times, the latest being Friday the Danish shipping company Torm.

To deal with this, Washington set up a multinational coalition in December to protect maritime traffic in this area through which 12% of world trade passes.

However, the Houthis continued their operations and launched 18 drones and three missiles on Tuesday which were shot down by three American destroyers, a British ship and combat planes. The British government has called it the “largest attack” by Yemeni rebels to date.

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council demanded an “immediate” end to their attacks and Washington warned of reprisals in the event of further attacks in the Red Sea. But on Thursday, the Houthis fired another anti-ship missile. And the next morning, American and British strikes rang out.

Iran, a key supporter of the Houthis and Israel’s No. 1 enemy, then condemned a “blatant violation of the sovereignty” of Yemen. On Friday, in Sanaa, the capital of the country controlled by the Houthis, hundreds of thousands of people protested against the American and British strikes, chanting: “Death to America, death to Israel”.


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