The United States has responded to a series of missile attacks aimed at U.S. Navy ships sailing in international waters off the coast of Yemen. Missiles from an area in Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels were launched toward these ships on October 9, 12, and 15. On October 13, the U.S. targeted three radar sites along the coast, and sent cruise missiles from the U.S. destroyer Nitze to degrade the ability of the sites to track and target ships in the future.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the U.S. strikes were a matter of self-defense, “a response to threats to our vessels and to freedom of navigation, which is a core U.S. national security interest:”
“More than 4 million barrels of oil a day pass through the Bab-el Mandeb. This narrow passage is a vital link connecting Asia and Europe. Safe navigation through the strait is vitally important to economies in the region and to global commerce.”
The current military conflict in Yemen started in March 2015 when rebels from the minority Houthi community, backed by Iran, took over large swaths of territory and forced the elected president, Abed Mansour Hadi, to flee the country. At the request of President Hadi, a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition began airstrikes against Houthi positions. The U.S. has been aiding the coalition with intelligence and logistical support, but has also expressed serious concern over the loss of civilian life, including the recent airstrike on a funeral in Yemen that killed more than 140 mourners and wounded hundreds more.
UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced earlier this week a cessation of hostilities agreed by all sides, which will de-escalate tensions and lead to a resumption of negotiations that could bring an end to the fighting. .
At the Pentagon, Press Secretary Cook added that “those who might threaten U.S. forces should recognize that we will not tolerate threats to our people. We will respond if our forces come under fire. We have taken swift action in this case, and should we see a repeat, we will be prepared to take appropriate action again at the appropriate time.”