The United States has launched strikes on Houthi militant targets in Yemen following repeated attacks by the Iranian-backed group on international and US ships.
Background: This military action follows over two months of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea that included more than two dozen drone and missile incursions targeting cargo ships, and even a hijacking or suicide attempt on a Singaporean-flagged container ship.
* This week’s counterattacks by U.S. helicopters led to the sinking of three out of four small Houthi boats that tried to attack the container ship.
Comments and Criticisms: The Biden administration warned of potential ramifications for the continued Houthi aggression, which has attracted strong calls for retaliation from Republicans.
* Rep. Mike Turner and Sen. Roger Wicker urged the administration to take a tougher stance against the Houthis.
* Gen. Frank McKenzie, former U.S. regional commander, emphasized the need to act against the Houthi militants and send a strong message to Iran.
Shipping Risks: The repeated Houthi hostilities in the Red Sea led to the creation of the US-led Prosperity Guardian coalition.
* Some shipping companies remain cautious and are diverting routes away from the Red Sea, with Maersk redirecting its vessels around Africa due to the elevated security risk.
Current Situation: The US labeling the Houthi actions as an assault on international shipping represents a widening of the Middle East conflict, following the recent Hamas attacks on Israel in October.
* Israeli officials say the continued counterattacks on Hamas in Gaza, causing thousands of casualties, will last until Hamas is defeated.
* The US has urged Israel to cease the bombing and focus on targeted ground campaigns, protecting civilians and increasing humanitarian aid.
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