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Escalating Conflict: US and UK Strikes Yemen Amid Rising Tensions with Houthi Rebels

Updated: Jun 12

By Defne Aliefendioglu

Managing Editor

On January 11th, the United States of America, in coordination with the United Kingdom, initiated a series of air and naval strikes  targeting Yemen. The strikes continued throughout January, marking it as the country's deadliest month since 2018, as reported bySave the Children and the United Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

The strikes happened in response to the attacks on Israeli-owned, flagged, or operated ships as well as ones linked to the United States of America and the United Kingdom by Houthi rebels in solidarity with Gaza. The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of Allah), are an Iranian-backed group that emerged in the 1990s as opposition to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen at the time. The Houthi insurgency was led by Hussein al-Houthi, a religious, political, and military leader who was also a member of the Yemeni parliament of the Party of Truth between 1993 and 1997. 

On October 10th, three days after the events of October 7th, the current Houthi leader, Abdul-Malik Badruldeen al-Houthi, warned the United States of America, stating that if they were to intervene in the war, the Houthis would begin to take military action.On October 31st, announced solidarity with Gaza. As the United States expressed its support for Israel, the Houthis started taking military action. On November 19th, the rebel group hijacked the Galaxy Leader cargo vessel as it was passing through the Red Sea. By the end of January, at least 33 ships had been attacked. 

As a consequence of these  attacks, major shipping companies such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have suspended operations in the Red Sea. On January 3rd, the secretary-general of the International Maritime Association, Arsenio Dominguez, informed the United Nations Security Council that at least 18 shipping companies had halted their voyages through the Red Sea and are instead rerouting around the African continent, elongating their journeys. Consequently, there has been an increase in shipping and insurance costs.

Via The Washington Institute 

On January 11, the United States and British militaries, along with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted targeted strikes on 60 Houthi installations  across 16 sites. Despite this, the Houthis vowed to continue their operations in the Red Sea until a ceasefire is called upon. Abdul-Malik Badruldeen al-Houthi voiced: “Do the American, British, and Zionists expect that any aggressive act against Yemen will distract us from defending Gaza? We swear, even if we turned into atoms scattered in the air, we will not leave Gaza. We will continue to target Zionist ships and those going to the Zionist entity. We will confront America, make it kneel, burn its warships, all its bases, and anyone who cooperates with it.”

Quickly after the strikes on Yemen, members of the U.S. Congress called out Joe Biden for launching an attack without congressional approval. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution states that only Congress is authorized to declare war. The President may only proceed to direct the military after the Congressional declaration.

U.S. Representative Cori Bush made an announcement affirming: “Biden can’t launch airstrikes in Yemen without congressional approval. This is illegal and violates Article I of the Constitution. The people do not want more of our taxpayer dollars going to endless war and the killing of civilians. Stop the bombing and do better by us.”

Another representative, Rashida Tlaib, made an announcement following that of Cori Bush, stating: “Biden is violating Article I of the Constitution by carrying out airstrikes in Yemen without congressional approval. The American people are tired of endless war.”

Another statement came from a democratic member from the U.S. House of Representatives, Valerie Anne Hoyle, saying:“These air strikes on Yemen were not authorized by Congress. The Constitution is clear that Congress is the only authority that allows military intervention in foreign conflicts. Every president must first come to Congress and request military authorization, regardless of which party he belongs to.”

On January 12, thousands of Yemenis flooded the streets of the giant Sanaa Square in the historic city center to demonstrate their solidarity with the Houthis and with Gaza.

Abdel Azim Ali, a protester at the scene expressed: “If America and its allies decide to declare open war on us, we're ready for it and we won't have any choice but to bring victory or fall as martyrs.” While another stated: “We're not scared of the American or British air force. We've been bombed for nine years and another attack is nothing new for us.”


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