On the morning of January 12, 2024, in a move that reeks of terrorism and the tactics adopted by DAESH (banned in Russia), the United States and Britain, arbitrarily and unilaterally launched a series of attacks on the Houthi movement in Yemen. Explosions were reported in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, the port of Al Hudaydah and the city of Dhamar. The Pentagon, in justification, insists that there were no losses to Air Force personnel, and that the strikes have been paused, but that it “reserves the right to respond” It did not say who or what it would respond to. The targets, according to the brave warriors from the Pentagon, were all military facilities: logistics centers, air defense systems and weapons depots. But according to the Houthi-run news media, the main targets hit were Al Hudaydah International Airport, Taiz International Airport and the northern suburbs of Sana’a.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak explained at length that the strikes were carried out in “self-defense.” And US President Joe Biden said in a statement that “today’s defensive action follows an extensive diplomatic campaign and escalating attacks on merchant ships by the Houthi rebels” and that he “will not hesitate to take action to protect his people.” The journalists present, sticklers for detail and not without a certain irony, immediately asked the White House spokesperson to clearly explain where and when the Houthis had attacked Britain or the United States, thus necessitating their leaders to immediately defense of their nations from “savage attacks by the Houthis.” We are still waiting for an answer.
The spokesman of the Yemeni Armed Forces, controlled by the Ansarullah (Houthi) government in Sana’a, warned that the US-British “aggression against our country will not go unanswered or unpunished,” and stating that the US and British armed forces had carried out “73 aggressive raids against the Republic of Yemen.” In a televised address, he also vowed that Yemen “target threat sources and all hostile targets on land and sea” and emphasized that “the ban on Zionist shipping in the Red and Arabian Seas” would continue in effect. He added that the attacks by the “American and British enemy” were carried out in support of Israeli crimes in Gaza.
Many experts agree with him, and are quick to point out that the combined United States and British attack on Yemen was a carefully orchestrated attempt to distract the world from the war in Gaza, and particularly the genocide case against Israel, which is currently being heard in The Hague. For the past month, Ansarullah has attacked a number of ships in the Red Sea, but only those linked with Israel, and it has repeatedly said that it will continue to do so if Israel persists in its bloody war of Gaza and its siege of the territory. If Washington and London really wanted to put a stop to Yemen’s military operations against Israel-linked ships in the Red Sea, they could have secured a cease-fire in Gaza. But instead of reining in Israel’s arrogant regime, they have chosen chose to take the risk of widening the scope of the war. Significantly, many commentators have warned that London and Washington’s actions would certainly expand the scope of the Gaza conflict and create a new flashpoint in the region. And that is what we see happening. A new, Western-inspired, state-terrorist policy of aggression against Yemen is likely to take the scope of the war far beyond Palestine. In any event, Israel will be grateful to America and Britain for diverting global attention and media headlines away from its war crimes in Gaza, which are now being examined in all their glory by the International Court of Justice.
It should be noted that the attacks on Yemen occurred on the same day that the world saw the horrifying evidence of Israel’s intention to commit genocide against the civilian population of Gaza presented by South Africa to the International Court of Justice. The Associated Press has reported that the US and British armed forces attacked Yemen in what it called a “massive retaliatory strike”. Ansarullah claims that most of those killed in the strikes were civilians who had no connection with any attacks of any foreign states and had never travelled abroad. America and Britain went ahead with the bombing without seeking the approval of the United Nations, the US Congress in Washington or the British Parliament in London.
Commenting on the aggressive air raids on Yemen, a country with no air defense systems, Abdul Qader al-Mortada, a representative Yemen’s Ansarullah government, said: “The US-Zionist-British aggression against Yemen has led to raids on the capital, Sana’a, Al Hudaydah Governorate and the cities of Sa’ada, Damar and Taiz.” According to some reports US and British warplanes and Navy destroyers reportedly fired Tomahawk cruise missiles, while other reports, citing officials, said that submarines were also used. Saudi media also reported that “a large number” of British and US aircraft had entered Yemeni airspace.
Nasr al-Din Amer, deputy head of Ansarullah’s Information Department in Sana’a, criticized the US for what he called its “vicious aggression against our country”. “They will pay absolutely and without hesitation, and we will not back down from our position in supporting the Palestinian people, whatever the cost”, he added. These words were echoed by Yemeni Major General Abdulsalam Jahaf, in social media comments: “America, Britain and the Israeli regime are launching raids. We will discipline them, God willing.“ Jahaf, a member of the Sana’a government’s Security Council, stressed the aggression would not distract Yemen from pursuing its aims of supporting Gaza “no matter what the cost”. Following the strikes, in another social media post Jahaf warned: “We will confront America, force it onto its knees, and burn its battleships and all its bases and everyone who cooperates with it, whatever the cost. This is a holy war, and this is the decisive historical moment, in which God has honored us with the task of humiliating America, Britain and the Israeli regime.“
Confirming the attacks, US President Joe Biden issued a statement in which he said: “Last week, together with 13 allies and partners, we issued an unequivocal warning that Houthi rebels would bear the consequences if their attacks [on Israeli-linked ships] did not cease.” In other words, the US and UK have openly admitted that they are not only supplying huge amounts of arms and funding to Tel Aviv, but also that they are working with it to destroy the residents of Gaza, as well as those who are mercifully helping the Palestinians. Moreover, the Red Sea is so narrow that it barely extends beyond the territorial waters of Yemen and Saudi Arabia on one side, and Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt on the other. The Bab al-Mandeb Strait itself is less than 30 km wide, and, as the Tehran Times points out, “if the old US aircraft carrier the Dwight Eisenhower were to enter it would get stuck there”. Who would then protect the US and Britain from Houthi aggression?
Before the attacks on Yemen, Ansarullah leader Abdul Malik al-Husi made a televised speech. Among other things, he said:
“We will not hesitate, with God’s help, to do everything in our power and we will resist American aggression. American aggression never goes unanswered. And the response will not be like the recent operation carried out with over 24 drones and several missiles. It will be on a much larger scale.
And we are unshaken in our determination to continue to attack ships linked to the Israeli regime, and we will not abandon this position, which is rooted in our faith. The Americans must understand what this means.
“We assure all countries, including China and other Asian countries, and the West, the European countries, we assure the whole world that you can cross the Red Sea in safety. Our only targets are ships linked to the Israeli regime.“
Lebanon’s Hezbollah criticized the US, accusing it of “supporting the aggression and criminality of the Zionist entity as it attacks all those throughout the region who support the oppressed people of Palestine.” Its statement continues: “As we salute the Yemeni people, we declare that this aggression will not weaken the noble people or army of Yemen, but will rather make them more determined to resist attacks, defend themselves and continue on the path of opposing the siege of Gaza and supporting the Palestinian people and their rightful cause.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the attacks, accusing Britain and America of trying to turn the Red Sea into a “sea of blood” and insisting that the strikes on Ansarullah in Yemen were disproportionate. He was quoted as saying that Ansarullah would “successfully defend itself and retaliate against the United States.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, criticized the attacks, saying that “the US airstrikes on Yemen are yet another example of the Anglo-Saxons’ perversion of UN Security Council resolutions” and that they demonstrated “a complete disregard for international law.” She added that Russia had called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, “in which we will voice our principled attitude to these illegal actions”, and insisted that the strikes demonstrated a “total disregard for international law” and “heightened the tensions in the region”.
It is likely that the timing of the latest attacks and the Houthis will raise questions in London and Washington. Can it really be a coincidence that America and Britain chose the same day when devastating evidence of the Israeli regime’s crimes in Gaza was presented in the International Court of Justice before the eyes of the world? Have Washington and London succeeded in diverting the attention of the world’s media from Israel’s atrocities against civilians in Gaza? Other important questions that the attacks raise concern the escalation of Western aggression against the Muslim world and the issue of legality – given the disregard for international law evinced by those Western states that falsely promote the principles of legality, human rights and democracy throughout the world.
The Biden administration has repeatedly falsely and unapologetically insisted that it does not seek to expand Israel’s war in Gaza to the wider region. The White House has launched “massive” strikes against Yemen (which has endured eight years of conflict supported by the US) instead of taking the diplomatic route. And it believes, and hopes to prove, that this will not further escalate the conflict or lead to a larger war in the Middle East. But, as the phrase goes, we’ll believe that when we see it.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”