By Kyle Anzalone

January 19, 2024  Antiwar.com

 

Update (Saturday, Jan. 20, 10:45 am): US Central Command reported conducting an additional round of air strikes in Yemen on Saturday.

A Pentagon official explained that the US government does not believe it is at war in Yemen. On Friday, the US bombed the Middle East country for the sixth time in just eight days. President Joe Biden admitted the bombing was not curbing Houthi attacks on shipping but vowed the US would continue striking the country.

US officials speaking with the Associated Press said F-18s conducted the sixth round of strikes in Yemen. The US claimed it hit anti-ship missiles. An official from the ruling Houthi government explained that US air raids took place in Hodeida.

Last Thursday, the US and UK fired hundreds of bombs and missiles against dozens of targets in Yemen. Since then, the White House has authorized near-daily strikes in Yemen.

The Biden administration claims it needs to conduct the operations against the Houthis because the group has barred Israeli-linked shipping from transiting the Red Sea until Tel Aviv ends its military operations in Gaza.

In response to the American strikes, the Yemeni people have rallied around the Houthis, and the group has stepped up strikes on American-linked shipping in the Red Sea. US Central Command posted on X that the Houthis attacked an American-owned tanker Thursday night with anti-ship missiles. CENTCOM said there was no damage to the ship or injuries to the crew.

In comments to the media on Thursday, Biden admitted that bombing Yemen was not making the region safe for shipping; however, he added that the bombing will continue.  “Well, when you say ‘working’ — are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes,” he said. 

Following Biden’s remarks, a Pentagon official explained that Washington does not believe the US is at war in Yemen. “We don’t think that we are at war. We don’t want to see a regional war,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said. “The Houthis are the ones that continue to launch cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles at innocent mariners, at commercial vessels that are just transiting an area that sees, you know, 10 to 15 percent of world’s commerce.”

The Houthis maintain that they will not end their attacks on US and Israeli shipping until Tel Aviv relents in Gaza. The group says it allows shipping for other countries to continue through the Red Sea.

 

-Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.