US Mulls Military Action Against Houthis After Officials Angered At Lack Of Response

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Dec 08, 2023 - 11:00 PM

The US says it is in talks with regional allies to establish a joint naval task force to protect commercial vessels traversing the Red Sea, following several attacks on commercial ships and even the hijacking of one Israeli-linked ship.

The White House has said it's in "active conversations" with allies about setting up such escorts. "We are in talks with other countries about a maritime task force of sorts involving the ships from partner nations alongside the United States in ensuring safe passage," US national security advisor Jake Sullivan said earlier this week.


The US position is that even though Houthi rebels out of Yemen had “their finger on the trigger" - also after declaring war on Israel - it remains that the Shia Muslim group's Iranian sponsors are ultimately responsible.

By the end of the week, fresh Bloomberg reporting confirmed the following on Friday:

The US has been consulting with Gulf allies about potential military action against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels in response to their increasingly brazen attacks on ships in the Red Sea, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions.

The talks are at a preliminary stage and both the US and partners still favor diplomacy over direct confrontation, said the people, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. That said, the fact the discussions are taking place at all underscores how seriously the US takes the threat, the people added.

This follows several Pentagon officials complaining to US media outlets over the lack of response from President Biden over the increased attacks from the Houthis.

Defense leaders are said to be "frustrated" and handcuffed by US political leadership's lack of action at a moment US warships are under direct threat in the region. Politico described the growing anger and pushback from the Pentagon this week as follows: 

Senior Biden administration officials agree that striking Houthis in Yemen is the wrong course of action for now, per three U.S. officials, even though some military officers have proposed more forceful responses to the militants’ attacks in the Red Sea.

There’s high-level consensus within the administration that it does not make sense for the U.S. military to respond directly to the Houthis, the officials said. Although the missile and drone attacks on three civilian vessels on Sunday drew a U.S. Navy warship into an hours-long firefight, U.S. intelligence officials have not determined that the warship was the target.

The Biden White House has further been accused of "downplaying" the threat:

Some current and former military officials were frustrated by the administration’s initial response to the Houthis’ Sunday attacks on the ships. The Houthis launched four drone and missile attacks on three ships; the destroyer USS Carney, responding to the distress calls, shot down three drones in its vicinity. Those current and former officials say the Iran-backed group’s increasingly aggressive behavior poses a significant risk to American forces in the region, and took issue with the administration’s public statements on Monday, which they say downplayed that threat.


The dissenters worry that lack of meaningful response could only embolden Iran-backed forces in the region, which also includes militia groups across Syria and Iraq, where Americans have also been coming under fire.

All of this serves to highlight that positioning Americans in the region - which includes the now years long occupation of Syria to put pressure on Assad - leaves troops incredibly vulnerable. Indeed Iran might see them as 'easy targets' - and with little to no strategic advance for Washington whatsoever.