Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the US plan for a ‘long military campaign’

Fears among some officials that an open-ended operation could “drag” the United States into “another unpredictable conflict.” Meanwhile, the United Kingdom upgrades the missiles used by the Royal Navy to counter the attacks

A US plan against Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, with theBiden administration laying out strategy for ‘prolonged military campaign’ against armed group in Yemen, which Iran has been accused of supporting for years. The Washington Post writes this, after ten days of raids which have failed to stop the Houthi attacks, which are obstructing maritime traffic, fueling fears among some officials that an indefinite operation could “derail the fragile peace” in country and “drag” the US into “another unpredictable conflict”.

The Post writes of high-level officials summoned to the White House on Wednesday to talk about options for the future of the Administration’s response to the Houthis.

The US strategy in Yemen, the uncertainty over the timing, the fears over American intervention

Since November, according to the newspaper, there have been more than 30 attacks against merchant ships launched by the Houthis with missiles and drones. And the “rapidly expanding” US response risks dragging Biden into another uncertain campaign in the region. Administration officials have described the strategy in Yemen as working to chip away at the Houthis’ high-level military capabilities.

“We have a clear idea of ​​who the Houthis are and their vision of the world – said an official – So we are not sure that they will stop immediately, but we are trying to reduce and destroy their capabilities.” Officials don’t expect the operation to go on for years like Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria, but they say it’s difficult to predict its end.

Nor is it possible to predict when the military capabilities of the Houthis, who have controlled the Yemeni capital Sana’a since September 2014 and are now redefining the map of global maritime transport, will be adequately undermined. US forces are also working to intercept weapons supplies from Iran. “We are not trying to defeat the Houthis. There is no desire to invade Yemen,” one diplomat said. According to a US official, the initial US and British raids managed to “significantly damage” the targeted military assets, but the Houthis have a significant arsenal.

“It’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen,” one official said. For Mohammed al-Basha, a Yemen expert from the Navanti Group, the Houthis have a strong incentive to move forward. “When they attacked Abu Dhabi airport they got a lot of attention, even more so when they attacked Aramco – he recalled, referring to attacks in recent years in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – But the attention they are receiving today for the attacks in the Sea Red is unheard of and they are very happy about it.”

And, faced with the American initiative, the Post writes about US officials who have expressed the fear that US military intervention could nullify the diplomatic successes to put an end to the conflict in Yemen or further aggravate the already desperate humanitarian situation in the country, the poorest in the Arab world. There are voices at the State Department and USAID who fear the Houthis will be pushed to expand attacks against Saudi targets, refineries first, causing the failure of work towards a peace agreement and the end of a war that in nine years Yemen has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. Because there are still many steps left to consolidate a peace agreement.

United Kingdom upgrades Royal Navy missiles

Meanwhile, the missiles used by the Royal Navy to counter attacks launched by the Houthis will be upgraded, the British government has announced. The Sea Viper air defense system will have more effective missiles equipped with a new warhead and a software upgrade is planned to counter the threat posed by ballistic missiles, track and shoot down targets more than 112 kilometers away.

A £405 million ‘upgrade’ awarded to MBDA which will be completed by 2032 and will secure 350 jobs. Thus Sea Viper will become “the best naval air defense system ever developed for the Royal Navy”. “As the situation in the Middle East worsens, it is vital that we adapt to keep the UK, our allies and partners safe,” Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said.