US and British air force jets attack on Yemeni air bases, threaten a wider conflict

Responding to a missile blockade by Houthi forces, which has targeted ships over the last few weeks destined for or leaving Israel along the Red Sea, the United States and Britain launched overnight on Friday , dozens of air strikes targeting Yemen, from the air and sea, in a move which many international pundits believe could trigger a broader regional war.

Attacks on Yemen will not prevent continuing blockade

According to the Houthi spokesperson, Mohammed Abdulsalem, the strikes which targeted a radar site in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, had only a limited impact, although the pentagon and the White House spokesperson John Kirby, declared the strikes as having successfully curbed the Houthi’s ability to ‘store, launch and guide missiles or drones’. Reports indicate that at least five people were killed in the attacks. The air attacks by both UK and US Air force jets, were explained as an attempt to frustrate Houthi missile strikes on trade shipping along the Red Sea.

International shipping faces severe disruption which could see a major hike in high street prices

Thus far, the actions of the Houthis have not resulted in any deaths aboard targeted ships and they have been able to boast their effectiveness in creating a total disruption to shipping through the Suez Canal – one of the world’s most important trade routes. Due to the Houthi attacks, International cargo ships which represent upwards of 15% of the world shipping traffic, have been forced to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope. Economists predict that the significant extra time taken to transport goods, will have a major impact on the end cost of goods and could see a sudden surge in prices on the high street.

Houthis insist they are attacking solely shipping destined for Israel

The attacks on all shipping ‘destined for Israel’ has been described by Houthis fighters as a demonstration of support for the plight of the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza in particular, who have been subject to what is widely regarded as wanton slaughter since October 7th 2023. As of the date of the US/UK Missile assault on the weekend, the assualt on Gaza reached its 100th day, with a death toll of 31,000 mostly women and children – including at least 7,000 unaccounted for and believed killed. The US Air Force announced Friday that it had struck more than 60 targets at 16  sites in Yemen.

European and US governments regard the Houthis as proxies acting for Iran and they hold Iran directly responsible for the attacks on the shipping in the Red Sea. Following the US/UK Missile attack, President Biden issued a statement. He said:

‘These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation’

The US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin announced during a subsequent visit to Israel, that the US was currently working on building a coalition with other NATO partners to counter the Houthi threat.

Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan slams disproportionate use of force

Russia and Turkey slam the ‘disproportionate’ attacks as Saudi urges restraint

Russia has openly criticised the US/UK attacks and has requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

Saudi Arabia also expressed ‘great concern’ and urged ‘restraint and avoiding escalation’.

Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan slammed the US and UK strikes as a disproportionate use of force. He said:

‘At the moment, they are trying to turn the Red Sea into a sea of blood and Yemen, with the Houthis and by using all of its force, says it is and will give the necessary response in the region to the United States and Britain’

Erdogan added that he understood from various sources that the Houthis were conducting a ‘very succesful defence, resposne’ against the US and Britain and that Iran was currently considering ‘how it can protect itself against all that is happening’

UK Parliament calls for vote on use of British Air Force jets as fears of escalation grow

Meanwhile, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak faced calls to call a parliamentary vote on the issue of British RAF planes being used in air strikes against the Houthi targets in Yemen, as concerns grow that the missile attack could escalate the conflict in the Middle East into a wider affair. He is being asked to explain why four Royal Air Force jets were involved in attacking Houthi air bases in Bani and Abbs, sites believed to be responsible for launching cruise missiles and drones against HMS Diamond – one of the most advanced warships in the world and other US Navy vessels which form a part of a US-led task force called ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’. This formidable fleet of warships has been  positioned in the Middle East, to ‘ensure the Red Sea remains safe for passing ships’.

Rishi Sunak responded by issuing a statement which said that Britain had taken:

‘Limited, necessary and proportionate action in self defence’

The UK Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, speaking on BBC news said that:

‘Clearly there is nervousness amongst those partners in the region that there could be some sort of escalation, but we were confident that these limited, proportianate, necessary strikes that went in last night were what is necessary to disrupt the Houthis’ ability to attack our warships that are protecting shipping in the southern Red Sea. And clearly nobody should see this as part of anything bigger’ He stated that no more strikes are planned for the moment before stating that the government’s ‘legal position is sound’.

The UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron published on twitter comments:

‘The UK and US have carried out targeted strikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen. The safety of UK vessels and the freedom of navigation across the Red Sea is paramount and that is why we are taking action. As the UNSC has made clear, the Houthis must halt attacks in the Red Sea.’

Houthi officials have vowed to retaliate against the strikes, adding that the targeting of Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea will continue until there is a ceasefire in Gaza. The leader of the Houthis, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, responding to the attacks, issued a statement which said:

‘We say to all countries, to Asian countries, like China and others, we say to European countries in the West, we say to everyone in the world: There is no problem for you to traverse and pass through the Red Sea. The only targets, exclusively, are ships linked to Israel.’

US Congress woman, Rashida Tlaib, says ‘‘The American people are tired of endless war’

It will be interesting to see how both President Biden and Rishi Sunak are able to justify this weekends actions, as they both face pushback from parliamentarians and congressman for bombing Yemen without approval. One of many comments on US social media by Congress member Rashida Tlaib, declared that the president was violating Article I of the US Constitution and that ‘The American people are tired of endless war’


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