The Biden administration is reportedly planning for a “sustained” assault on Yemen after a barrage of U.S. airstrikes in recent days failed to halt Houthi attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the White House “convened senior officials on Wednesday to discuss options for the way ahead” in Yemen, which has endured years of deadly U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing.
“Officials say they don’t expect that the operation will stretch on for years like previous U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria,” the Post added. “At the same time they acknowledge they can identify no end date or provide an estimate for when the Yemenis’ military capability will be adequately diminished.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden admitted publicly that the most recentU.S. airstrikes in Yemen have not worked to deter the Houthis, who say their attacks in the Red Sea won’t stop until Israel ends its assault on Gaza.
Even after conceding their ineffectiveness, Biden said the U.S. strikes on Yemen would continue. Early Saturday morning, American forces launched airstrikes targeting “a Houthi anti-ship missile that was aimed into the Gulf of Aden and was prepared to launch,” the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
The following day, CENTCOM announced the deaths of two U.S. Navy SEALs who were lost at sea after a January 11 raid targeting an unflagged ship purportedly carrying Iranian weapons to Yemen’s Houthis.
There’s no indication that Biden intends to seek congressional authorization for the ongoing, open-ended U.S. military campaign in Yemen, rebuffing calls from Democratic and Republican lawmakers who say the hostilities with the Houthis are unconstitutional and heighten the risk of all-out regional war. Biden formally notified Congress of the latest round of U.S. airstrikes on Yemen a day after launching them earlier this month.
Analysts have argued that the best way to mitigate the risk of a spiraling Middle East war is to pursue a cease-fire in Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed more than 25,000 people—mostly women and children—in less than four months. But the Biden administration has stonewalled cease-fire efforts at the United Nations Security Council, opting instead to allow a humanitarian aid resolution that is failing to deliver for starving and desperate Gazans.
“This administration is off its hinges,” said the Yemeni Alliance Committee. “Biden has started an illegal war on Yemen to avoid a cease-fire in Gaza.”
Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, echoed that message, writing on social media that “Biden is starting another war in the Middle East just so that Israel can continue slaughtering people in Gaza.”
“A cease-fire in Gaza would likely end the Houthi attacks,” Parsi wrote. “But Biden is choosing war instead.”