US Navy retaliates against Yemen missiles attack
According to the Pentagon, last week the USS Nitze, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, targeted three radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory along Yemen’s Red Sea coast. President Obama authorized Tomahawk missile strikes in retaliation against Yemen missile launches against Nitze. Pentagon officials said initial assessments show the targeted Houthi positions were destroyed.
The limited double tap self-defense strikes were conducted to protect US ships and freedom of navigation in the region. The show of force comes after the rebels were blamed for shooting missiles at US ships patrolling international waters near Yemen. The Houthis have denied the allegations.
The retaliatory missile strikes against the Houthis mark the first time American Naval forces have become openly involved militarily in the war between the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabian-backed government in exile.
Peter Cook, a Pentagon spokesman, warned Yemenis that the US was prepared to strike the region’s poorest country again if rebel fighters continued to target offensive strikes at US naval vessels.
“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” a Pentagon statement read. “The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic.”
So far, the Obama administration has been reluctant to openly admit US involvement in the 18-month long war but insisted the strikes were pinpointed and successful. It’s important to note that the Obama administration has provided nearly $25 billion in precision weaponry to the House of Saud, who in turn, has been slowly obliterating Yemen.
The targeted airstrikes sparked outrage with anti-war groups who are monitoring the fractious regional war and prompted the State Department to address the media.
“So in response to these – these aggressive acts, we made a decision – the President did – to support a very specific and targeted strike on these missile – sorry, these radar sites that we believe have played a role in the – in targeting these vessels of ours. The key points that I think you should be aware of about these strikes that we’ve tried to really strongly emphasize, these were taken in self-defense. So underscoring the point that I made that we were responding to provocations by the Houthis’ militia toward our ships, and so we responded,” the senior State Department official told reporters on a background call.
However, the senior official tried to explain that the strikes did not change America’s involvement in Yemen. “We were very clear that this was not meant to indicate support for coalition operations either in Yemen at large or on the Red Sea. And we also made clear in public statements that we were not intending to be brought into the war in any – in any fashion.”
The official continued, “As you know, these particular strikes that we took sort of bring up to the present more than a year of activity by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen which has had a number of unfortunate consequences which we have talked about publicly: one, our discomfiture with the way that the war has dragged out, the loss of life; and number two, particularly the civilian casualties. And so that’s been sort of an underpinning, I think, of this conflict.”
Behind the scenes, Secretary of State John Kerry claims to be working on a ceasefire agreement. “We had, as you know, fledgling attempts over the summer in Kuwait to bring the sides together. Some progress (has been) made but not enough to reach any sort of permanent deal,” DoS said.
The sugarcoated background interview did little to alleviate fears that KSA’s war with Yemen would remain just between the two countries.
“Even though what has happened in the last couple of days is certainly an escalation [of the Yemeni conflict], the United States was involved in this conflict for many months,” Kristine Beckerle told Sputnik. “It’s an escalation, but it’s not a fundamental change in the standoff, which has already claimed the lives of more than 4,000 civilians.”
Meanwhile, the State Department issued an October 8th statement regarding a KSA airstrike that killed more than 150 and injured another 500 attendees of a funeral.
“The United States welcomes the initial results of the Arab Coalition Investigation into the October 8 airstrike that struck a funeral hall in Sana’a, Yemen and considers it an important first step toward better understanding the events of that day. Throughout this conflict, we have expressed our deepest concern about the ongoing actions by all parties involved. This conflict has killed and injured civilians, damaged civilian infrastructure, and inflicted a heavy humanitarian toll paid by the Yemeni people. We urge all sides to recommit to an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities that can lead to renewed negotiations and a political settlement that ends the conflict.”
To date the Yemen war has claimed 6,000 lives, injured 35,000 and displaced three million.