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U.S. and British strikes target Houthis in Yemen amid escalating regional tensions

AsiaU.S. and British strikes target Houthis in Yemen amid escalating regional tensions

In response to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the United States and Britain have launched joint strikes from both air and sea against Houthi military targets in Yemen. Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands are supporting these strikes. The objective is to restore the free flow of trade in a critical route between Europe and Asia, which represents approximately 15% of the world’s shipping traffic.

Explosions were reported throughout Yemen, confirming the strikes. President Joe Biden issued a statement, warning of further action if necessary. He emphasized that these targeted strikes send a clear message that the U.S. and its allies will not tolerate attacks on personnel or allow hostile actors to compromise freedom of navigation.

The British Ministry of Defence indicated that early assessments suggest a significant reduction in the Houthis’ ability to threaten merchant shipping. The Iran-backed Houthis claim their attacks on Red Sea shipping routes are in support of the Palestinians and Hamas, the group controlling Gaza.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, currently in the hospital due to surgery complications, mentioned that the strikes targeted various Houthi capabilities, including drones, ballistic and cruise missiles, coastal radar, and air surveillance. A Houthi official labeled the strikes as “American-Zionist-British aggression,” confirming raids in multiple locations.

There are concerns about escalation, with experts warning about the potential involvement of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia, in a statement, called for restraint and urged parties to avoid escalation.

The United States has accused Iran of being operationally involved in the Houthi attacks, providing military capabilities and intelligence. The strikes, supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, aim to restore the free flow of trade in a key route between Europe and Asia, accounting for about 15% of the world’s shipping traffic.

While the U.S. insists there is no intent to escalate tensions, the Houthis have vowed to retaliate to any attack. The strikes, the first on Yemeni territory since 2016, highlight the challenge of containing the fallout from the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East.

Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping routes have disrupted international commerce, leading to longer shipping routes and raising concerns about increased delivery costs and global inflation.

Anti-war activists protested the strikes in Times Square and outside the White House, expressing concerns about the potential widening of the conflict in Gaza. Demonstrators called for “hands off the Middle East,” “hands off Yemen,” and “hands off Gaza,” waving Palestinian flags and carrying banners reading “Free Palestine” and “stop bombing Yemen.”

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