US Plans Open-Ended War Against Houthis, But Biden Officials Assure It Won't Take "Years"

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Jan 22, 2024 - 05:40 PM

It's no secret that ongoing Houthi attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea is a massive headache for the Biden administration going into the November presidential election. If the US does nothing (or opts simply for occasional missile strikes on Yemen), then commercial transit will continue being choked off in the vital waterway which serves 12% of all global trade. But doing more to go on the offensive also risks the US being sucked into another regional quagmire which steadily escalates, but with no guarantee the Houthis will halt the attacks.

Over the weekend US officials told The Washington Post that the Biden administration is planning for a "sustained military campaign" against the Iran-backed Yemeni rebels, even after some seven rounds of major strikes have done nothing to deter or degrade their drone and missile attacks. Notably, US leaders have still refused at this point refused to use the word "war" in relation to the large-scale US coalition attacks on Houthis as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian.

US Navy image/AP

Some US officials cited in the Post expressed concern that an "open-ended operation could derail the war-ravaged country’s fragile peace and pull Washington into another unpredictable Middle Eastern conflict." This in reference to the war which raged since 2015, and saw the Saudi-led coalition which also included the UAE and the US conduct hundreds of airstrikes, often killing civilians.

Amid the White House deliberations over what to do, there is an acknowledgement that it will be extremely difficult to completely halt all Houthi missile and drone attacks in the region, at least in the near-term. This comes in the following from the report:

Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, described their strategy in Yemen as an effort to erode the Houthis’ high-level military capability enough to curtail their ability to target shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden or, at a minimum, to provide a sufficient deterrent so that risk-averse shipping companies will resume sending vessels through the region’s waterways.

“We are clear-eyed about who the Houthis are, and their worldview,” a senior U.S. official said of the group, which the Biden administration designated this week as a terrorist organization. “So we’re not sure that they’re going to stop immediately, but we are certainly trying to degrade and destroy their capabilities.”

Importantly, officials expressed optimism that the conflict in the Red Sea won't drag on for "years" akin to US operations in Afghanistan, Iran and Syria - the latter country which is still occupied by hundreds of US troops (in the northeast oil and gas rich areas primarily).

Officials acknowledged to WaPo that they are unable to identify an "end date or provide an estimate for when the Yemenis’ military capability will be adequately diminished."

Critics have said there's another option that Biden refuses to consider--a major peace deal or negotiated permanent ceasefire...

This kind of rhetoric in the early phase of a conflict is always alarming and eyebrow-raising considering the pattern of US intervention in the region over the past two decades. When there's a US "debate" over not putting an "end date" to a new offensive or area of operations, that's a sure sign things are headed toward escalation with no off-ramp.

In Gaza, Israel too has refused to put an end-date to its ground and aerial offensive. The Houthis have vowed to keep up the attacks on foreign vessels so long as Israel stays in Gaza. The conflict has steadily been spilling over into Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon too. As for the prospect of the US sinking into a bigger regional war, mainstream media has increasingly claimed there are 'no alternatives'. New analysis in Moon of Alabama exposes this tactic, which is typical whenever the American military machine prepares expanded action.