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US and UK launch new Yemen strikes for Red Sea.

Photo: Handout / US Central Command (AFP)

On the recent Saturday, both US and UK warplanes executed a joint military operation, launching targeted strikes on 18 sites in Yemen under Houthi control. The Houthi rebels, known to be supported by Iran, were the focal point of this action. This operation marked the fourth collaborative effort by the US and UK, with the stated objective of further diminishing the Houthi rebels' capacity to pose a threat to the Red Sea trade route.

The Pentagon, in a joint statement, clarified that the strikes were directed at various Houthi facilities, including those associated with underground storage, missile installations, drones, air defense systems, radars, and even a helicopter. The US, justifying its actions, emphasized that the strikes were deemed "necessary and proportionate." Their primary aim was to disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Houthi rebels that could be used to jeopardize global trade, naval vessels, and the lives of mariners in the critical Red Sea waterway.

Notably, the statement highlighted that the Houthi rebels had been responsible for "more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November." The cumulative effect of these attacks was framed as a risk to the global economy, regional security, and stability, warranting an international response. The strikes were reportedly conducted with support from allies such as Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Following the military action, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin underscored the commitment to taking further action if necessary to defend lives and maintain the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most crucial waterways. Additionally, he emphasized the dedication to supporting regional partners and ensuring the overall security of the Red Sea.

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps expressed the UK's obligation to protect lives at sea and uphold the freedom of navigation. He specifically noted the Royal Air Force's involvement in what he described as the "fourth wave of precision strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen."

The US military disclosed that, before the joint strikes, it had destroyed seven mobile anti-ship missiles belonging to the Houthi rebels, further underscoring their readiness for defensive measures.

The backdrop of these military actions involves the Houthi rebels launching attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, claiming connections to Israel and the West, as part of their response to the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. The Houthi rebels have been engaged in a civil war in Yemen since 2014, when they captured the capital, Sanaa, and significant parts of the country. Their opposition includes a Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemen. The conflict has triggered a severe humanitarian crisis in Yemen, with millions facing famine, disease, and displacement.

The Red Sea serves as one of the world's busiest and most crucial shipping lanes, connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa. Additionally, it functions as a strategic chokepoint for the export of oil and gas from the Middle East. Any disruption or escalation in conflict in this region could have profound consequences for global trade and energy supplies.

Feb. 25, 2024 12:52 p.m. 2015

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