Houthi attack on US ship shows limited scope of Washington’s bombing in Yemen

(CNN) — US-led air strikes on Houthi rebel positions in Yemen last week destroyed less than a third of the Iran-backed group’s global offensive capabilities, a US official told CNN, and the group has resorted to attacking ships in the Red Sea. Has retained most of its capabilities.

Despite a major deployment of attacks last week, in which 150 precision-guided munitions were fired at about 30 locations, the Houthis still have about three-thirds of their capacity to attack commercial ships in international shipping lanes in the Southern Sea. It is fourth. The officer said, Aden.

This became clear on Monday, when a missile launched by the Houthis struck a US-owned cargo ship in the Red Sea, appearing to be the first time warplanes have attacked a ship owned or controlled by the United States. Succeeded in.

Last week’s air raids were successful as planned: the United States destroyed or damaged 93% of the targets it selected, but some American officials privately admitted that it attacked international maritime transport. Did nothing to curb the Houthis’ ability to continue.

A US official said regarding the attacks, “We received a message and had some decommissioning, but we are waiting for a response and we do not believe we have significantly pushed back their military efforts.”

The limited scope of last week’s operation shows the kind of tightrope the Biden administration is walking in the Middle East, where a violent tug-of-war between Iran and groups backed by the United States and Israel is about to lead to an open war.

Washington has sincerely sought to avoid a situation in which attacks by the Houthis and other Iranian-backed groups would become another front in the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.

global trade disruption

Since November, Houthi fighters, who receive significant weapons and other support from Iran, have launched dozens of attacks on international shipping in what the group says are retaliation for Israel’s war in Gaza. Those attacks are disrupting global trade, forcing some of the world’s largest shipping companies to avoid the waterway, diverting thousands of kilometers into international shipping routes by sailing around the African continent instead of transiting the Suez Canal. (and potentially adding up millions of dollars).

Senior Biden administration officials insist Friday’s operation against the Houthis succeeded in its goal: reducing the group’s military capabilities.

“This was not a signal exercise,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a call with reporters on Friday. “It was designed to disrupt and degrade Houthi military capabilities.”

The dozens of targets the United States struck on Friday included command and control nodes, munitions, launch systems, production facilities and air defense radar systems, especially to make it more difficult for the Houthis to attack ships at sea. Was chosen to make. As noted by Pentagon officials. By design, there were few Houthi casualties.

Lieutenant General Douglas Sims II, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a briefing last week: “It wasn’t necessarily about casualties, it was about diminished capability.” “The sole objective was to eliminate a capability that hinders … freedom of navigation in international waters, and we are confident that we have done a good job.”

And the United Kingdom, which took part in Friday’s attacks, insisted they were an act of “self-defense” aimed at “de-escalating tensions and restoring stability in the region.”

Assessment of the damage caused by the air strikes was first reported by The New York Times.

Iran’s careful calibration

Declassified US intelligence reveals that Iran has been deeply involved in coordinating Houthi attacks on commercial and merchant vessels, including providing information about cargo ships passing through the waterway.

US intelligence services believe that Iran is carefully measuring its response to Israel’s war in Gaza, allowing its proxies to impose costs on Israeli and US interests in the region and even aiding them. while also encouraging, while avoiding activities that could lead to direct conflict with Iran.

American officials fear that one side will miscalculate, even though none of the major parties – Iran, Israel and the United States – want widespread war. This concern is particularly acute when it comes to the Houthis, who have a deep ideological hatred of Israel and are one of the most actively independent Iranian ally groups.

closure of an important trade route

Analysts believe a prolonged closure of the waterway connecting to the Suez Canal could disrupt global supply chains and send prices of manufactured goods soaring at a crucial time in the fight to beat inflation. The Suez Canal carries 10% to 15% of global trade, including oil exports, and 30% of global container shipping volume.

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Mick Mulroy said, “The United States should strive to destroy as many targets on the Yemeni coast of the Sea of ​​Aden as it did on the Red Sea coast.” Trump administration and now ABC News analyst. “No radar, launch or storage site should be abandoned.”

President Joe Biden said Friday that he “will not hesitate to take further measures to protect the safety of our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”

(TagstoTranslate)Israel Houthis(T)Red Sea

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