US preparing for ‘sustained’ Yemen bombing campaign – WaPo
The US is preparing for a “sustained” bombing campaign in Yemen after ten days of airstrikes failed to undermine the ability of Houthi fighters to target ships in the Red Sea, the Washington Post has reported, citing unnamed officials.
The administration of President Joe Biden does not expect a protracted operation such as the US campaigns in Iraq or Afghanistan, but at the same time it cannot provide a timeframe for when Houthi military capabilities will be adequately diminished, the newspaper reported on Saturday.
Washington’s strategy is to curb the ability of the Shiite militant group to target ships off the coast of Yemen, or at least create safe conditions for shipping companies to resume sending vessels through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, sources added.
The Houthis have launched dozens of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in the area in recent months, declaring support for Gaza amid Israel’s military operation in the Palestinian enclave.
The militants have also vowed revenge against the US and the UK, who have been carrying out strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen for more than a week.
“We are clear-eyed about who the Houthis are, and their worldview. So we’re not sure that they’re going to stop immediately, but we are certainly trying to degrade and destroy their capabilities,” one US official told the Post.
Washington is “not trying to defeat the Houthis. There’s no appetite for invading Yemen,” a diplomat familiar with the situation explained. Instead, the US wants “to degrade their ability to launch these kind of attacks going forward, and that involves hitting the infrastructure that enables these kind of attacks, and targeting their higher-level capabilities,” he added.
President Biden ordered the strikes on Yemen for ideological reasons, rather than economic, as the US seeks to maintain its status as the world’s “indispensable nation,” officials claimed.
The Washington Post expressed concern that the bombing campaign against the Houthis would become a “setback” for Biden’s goal of preventing the spread of the Israel-Hamas conflict to other parts of the Middle East. It could also end up “undermining his attempt to refocus US foreign policy on Russia and China,” the newspaper argued.