US destroys Houthi boats, cruise missiles in Yemen
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced it had neutralized several Houthi missile systems and explosive-laden boats in Yemen, in what was described as "self-defense strikes."
These operations, conducted on the previous Friday, targeted Houthi weaponry poised to attack US and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, aiming to safeguard maritime navigation.
Houthi reports acknowledged US and UK airstrikes in Saada but did not confirm hits on their naval capabilities. The strikes are part of broader efforts by the US and UK to diminish the Houthi military threat and halt their assaults in the Red Sea, with actions ongoing since January 12.
Despite a US ultimatum demanding the Houthis cease Red Sea hostilities by February 16—before a potential terrorism designation—the Houthis remain defiant. US Ambassador to Yemen, Stephen Fagin, stated the designation could be reconsidered if the Houthis stopped their maritime attacks.
Moreover, the Houthis threatened to intensify attacks if Israeli blockades on Gaza are not lifted, disregarding the terrorism label. They claim their actions aim to compel Israel to end its embargo on Gaza.
Elisabeth Kendall, a Middle East expert at Cambridge University, suggested that the American ultimatum is likely a diplomatic formality, as the US anticipates Houthi non-compliance and prepares for potential military escalation.