US and UK launch strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen

New Update

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with US President Joe Biden (File image)

New Delhi: In response to recent major attacks on Red Sea shipping by Yemen's Houthi rebels, the United States and the United Kingdom along with allies have initiated military action against the Iran-backed group in Yemen.


US warship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and jets attacked over 12 sites, including the capital, Sanaa, and Hudaydah, the Houthi Red Sea port stronghold. Four RAF Typhoon jets also participated in the strikes, flying from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus. US President Biden warned of potential further measures to ensure the free flow of commerce.

In a unified stance, the governments of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the UK, and the US issued a joint statement. Emphasizing the "broad consensus" within the international community against the Houthi rebels, the statement pointed to a UN Security Council resolution from the previous month, which called on the rebels to cease their attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Wednesday, urging an immediate halt to Houthi attacks and endorsing the right of UN member states to defend their vessels.


The joint statement clarified that the multilateral strikes were carried out "in accordance with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defence." It further explained, "These precision strikes were intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways."

The allies stressed that their primary goal is to "de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea." Amidst the military action, Saudi Arabia urged the US and its allies to exercise restraint and "avoid escalation." Media reports, citing a statement from the Saudi foreign ministry, revealed that Riyadh is closely monitoring the situation with "great concern."

In another statement, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin outlined that the joint military action was designed to "disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities." The attacks specifically targeted the Houthi's unmanned aerial vehicles, uncrewed surface vessels, land-attack cruise missiles, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities.


According to a US defence official, Austin remained "actively involved" and communicated with the president twice in the 72 hours leading up to the operation.

This decision comes after a warning from White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, who stated that the U.S. would respond to continued Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping.

Houthi rebels, supported by Iran and controlling significant portions of Yemen, claim their attacks support their ally Hamas in Gaza, targeting shipping destined for Israel.


Despite the resolution, the Houthis referred to it as a "political game" and continued their attacks, citing opposition to Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza as the reason. Eleven nations supported the resolution, while Russia, China, Mozambique, and Algeria abstained from voting.

Houthi deputy foreign minister Hussein al-Izzi warned that the US and UK would "pay a heavy price" for this "blatant aggression." The International Chamber of Shipping reported that due to heightened tensions, 20% of the world's container ships are now avoiding the Red Sea, opting for the longer route around the southern tip of Africa.

The Houthi rebels, claiming to have targeted a U.S. ship supporting Israel on Tuesday, have been responsible for 26 attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea since November 19. Pentagon officials report a total of 27 attacks launched by the group since November 19, maintaining a tense and escalating situation in the region.