US could retaliate against Houthis over Yemen missile attack
The Pentagon adopted a bullish stance on Tuesday after two missiles, fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, were intercepted by a US Navy destroyer north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Sunday.
Hinting at possible retaliation Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters that those responsible for the attack had fired the missiles “at their own peril.”
“We want very much to get to the bottom of what happened. We’re going to find out who did this and we’ll take action accordingly,” said Davis, noting that investigations into the unprecedented incident remained ongoing.
“We will make sure that anybody who interferes with freedom of navigation or anybody who puts US Navy ships at risk understands that they do so at their own peril,” said Davis, who responded to a question asking whether Washington would seek retaliatory action by stating “I’m not confirming that right now.”
Neither of the rockets fired on the US vessel made impact but the attack has raised concerns over the safety of vessels in the Bab al-Mandab strait. Nearly 4 million barrels of oil pass through the channel on a daily basis.
Houthi involvement is widely suspected in the attack, after the Yemeni Shia political military group claimed responsibility for a similar strike on a vessel from the United Arab Emirates last week. However the Iran-backed group have denied responsibility.
A deadly airstrike on a funeral attended by prominent Houthi officials in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, on Saturday, that Saudi Arabia is expected of being behind, left over 130 people dead, and 500 injured. Since this event former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is backed by the Houthis, has called for an escalation of attacks against Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, supports the exiled government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and has received substantial military support from countries including the US and the UK since the Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes in Yemen in March 2015.
Rights groups have long called for both the UK and the US to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia pointing to the use of British and American manufactured military equipment in attacks that have killed civilians.