U.S. defense forces targeted and destroyed four Houthi missiles in Yemen on Tuesday, in what was described as a preemptive action.
What Happened: The U.S. Central Command stated, “These missiles were prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and presented an imminent threat to both merchant and U.S. Navy ships in the region,” Bloomberg reported.
The strikes were a response to recent attacks by Iran-backed Houthis on two commercial ships in the Red Sea. The vessels targeted included the Greek-owned commodity carrier Zografia and a US-owned bulk freighter, the Gibraltar Eagle.
The Biden administration’s latest move aims to deter further Red Sea attacks by the Houthi rebels while seeking to avoid expanding the Mideast conflict. Notably, the strikes were much more limited than the extensive airstrikes conducted by the US and UK in Yemen the previous week.
John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, acknowledged that the large-scale U.S. airstrikes didn’t entirely halt the Houthi attacks, saying, “We have seen some additional lower-scale retaliatory strikes by the Houthis in the last few days, much smaller than what we had seen before and none of them effective.”
The US Navy has advised vessels to avoid the southern Red Sea since Friday, causing trade disruption.
Why It Matters: The U.S. military’s recent actions follow a series of events in the region, including a Houthi missile strike on a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Red Sea, which was intercepted by a U.S. fighter aircraft. This event marked an escalation in the ongoing conflict.
Prior to the U.S. targeted strikes, a coalition led by the U.S. initiated a series of attacks on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen. This came as a response to the Houthis’ refusal to comply with an ultimatum to cease their Red Sea ship assaults.
The conflict has had a significant impact on international trade, with British oil giant Shell PLC recently suspending its shipments traversing the Red Sea due to escalating security concerns.
These events have also had a marked effect on global oil prices, with crude oil prices jumping by more than 4% as tensions in the Middle East and Red Sea intensified following U.S.-led airstrikes on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen. The conflict’s potential to disrupt oil supplies has been a major driver of these price increases.
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