Title: US and Allies Issue Final Warning to Houthi Rebels as Attacks on Vessels Increase
In a stern message sent to the Houthi rebels, the United States and 12 of its allies have issued a final warning, urging them to halt their attacks on vessels in the Red Sea immediately or brace for potential military action. The rebels have launched a series of 23 attacks since December 19, in response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
A senior official from the Biden administration has emphasized that this warning will be the last, implying that subsequent attacks will result in military retaliation. However, specific details regarding the rules of engagement in case of continued attacks were not disclosed.
The joint statement, signed by the US, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK, condemns the assaults and highlights the growing impatience of the international community. Issued in a coordinated effort to protect global commerce, the statement warns against further acts of aggression.
The attacks orchestrated by the Houthi rebels have primarily targeted commercial shipping vessels transiting through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, interrupting the free flow of commerce in the region. In response, the US and its allies have initiated Operation Prosperity Guardian, deploying warships from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom to patrol the area and safeguard the transportation of goods.
Recent incidents have escalated tensions further. US helicopters fired upon Houthi rebels after they attacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea, leading to the sinking of three boats and the deaths of multiple fighters. These actions indicate that the United States and its allies are prepared to respond robustly to any provocation that negatively impacts global commerce.
While President Joe Biden seeks to prevent a further escalation of the Israeli-Hamas conflict, he has made it clear that the US and its allies will respond similarly to any aggression that threatens international trade. The intention is to deal with the Houthi rebels in a manner that avoids entanglement with Iran and its proxy groups.
The US has called upon the United Nations Security Council to take action against the Houthi rebels and has also issued a warning to Iran, the rebels’ main financier. Iran is now at a crossroads, having to decide whether to continue supporting the insurgents or potentially face consequences.
Adding weight to the situation, the UN deputy ambassador for the US pointed out that without Iranian support, the Houthi rebels would find it difficult to track and strike commercial vessels, further underscoring the need for Iran to reconsider its position.
The recent retaliatory airstrikes by President Biden against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq, in response to drone attacks injuring US servicemembers, showcase the delicate balance the US aims to strike in its dealings with Iran and its proxies. The focus remains on ensuring regional stability, preventing wider conflict, and safeguarding global commerce.