On Tuesday US forces carried out another round of strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen, but this time the operation is being dubbed a "pre-emptive" attack that came in response to militants preparing missile launches on the ground in real time.
"US forces struck and destroyed four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles," a Central Command (CENTCOM) statement saud. "These missiles were prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and presented an imminent threat to both merchant and US Navy ships in the region."
Over the course of the prior day, two commercial ships were hit by Houthi missiles, including the Zografia, in an incident we detailed earlier.
US defense officials explained of this third significant wave of American strikes against the Houthis, per Politico:
The Tuesday attacks were on a much smaller scale and “dynamic” in nature, meaning they were not pre-planned and rather taken in self-defense against missiles that presented an imminent threat to international shipping, one of the officials said. All of the officials were granted anonymity to speak about a sensitive operation before an official announcement.
These Houthi launches targeting Red Sea transit are coming daily at this point, and so it's very likely there will be many more counter-attacks to come from the Operation Prosperity Guardian coalition patrolling off Yemen. CENTCOM has has also continued upping its counter-Iran operations in regional waters, also as Tehran is believed to be supplying the Yemeni rebel group with weapons.
Shell plc multinational oil and gas company has been the latest to suspend tanker operations through the Red Sea.
In earlier analysis we explained how the number of commercial vessels that have transited the Red Sea/Suez Canal route has more than halved over the past month amid rising tensions off Yemen, but more than 100 ships, including oil tankers, have crossed the water lane since the US and UK navies advised operators on Friday to steer clear of the route.
A total of 114 commercial vessels — including oil tankers, bulk carriers, and container ships — have continued with their routes and transited into or out of the Red Sea through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, according to vessel-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.
The Houthis have declared war on Red Sea shipping in connection with Israel's ongoing operation in Gaza. The White House has so far backed away from calling for permanent ceasefire, also as over 100 Israeli hostages remain in Hamas captivity...
🇺🇸🇮🇱BLINKEN TO STAFF: WE HEAR YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT GAZA - GET BACK TO WORK— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) January 16, 2024
“We've had a number of people in the department since Oct, raised questions, concerns, criticisms of policies, policies that Israel pursuing, policies that we are pursuing. Ultimately they have to be on… pic.twitter.com/G4mQzqtIvS
While attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, national security adviser Jake Sullivan strongly suggested the region will soon see more US offensive strikes in Yemen. "We did not say when we launched our attacks, they’re gonna end once and for all," he warned in the fresh remarks.