Airstrikes have failed to stop Houthis – Biden
US President Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday that American forces would continue to launch military strikes on Houthi targets, despite the fact that the campaign is “not stopping” the Yemeni militants from attacking merchant shipping in the Red Sea.
American warships and submarines stationed in the Red Sea fired a wave of missiles at more than a dozen Houthi launch sites in Yemen on Wednesday night, hours after the rebel group struck a US-owned cargo vessel with a drone. US Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, said that the American bombardment would “degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to continue their reckless attacks on international and commercial shipping.”
Asked on Thursday whether strikes on Yemen were working to deter the Houthis, Biden responded: “When you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”
Wednesday’s missile strikes marked the fourth time that US forces have attacked Houthi targets in Yemen since last week. American and British warplanes launched a barrage of around 70 missiles on Houthi targets last Thursday and Friday, with the US launching follow-up strikes on Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Shortly after Biden spoke, Central Command announced that American forces had launched another strike, targeting Houthi missiles it claimed were ready to fire at commercial ships.
In between these strikes, Houthi forces have continued to attack ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The militant group hit a US-owned container ship with a ballistic missile on Monday and a Greek-owned carrier bound for Israel on Tuesday, before hitting the US-owned vessel on Wednesday.
Houthi forces have attacked dozens of commercial ships since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, vowing to continue until the war ends and the Israeli blockade on Gaza is lifted. While the militants initially said they would target only “Israel-linked” vessels or ships bound for Israeli ports, a Houthi spokesman said this week that in order for a ship to be targeted, “it is enough for it to be American.”
Around 15% of the world’s shipping traffic uses the Red Sea and Suez Canal to journey between the Arabian and Mediterranean seas. In response to the Houthi attacks, major transportation firms, including Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, and Hapag-Lloyd have rerouted their ships around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa – a far longer route between Asia and Europe.