American and British forces carried out strikes on the evening of Thursday January 11 on Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have increased attacks on ships in the Red Sea in recent weeks. They involved combat planes and Tomahawk missiles, American media said.

These strikes were “carried out successfully”, declared US President Joe Biden, who specified that they had been carried out with the “support” of Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands. During a meeting with his cabinet, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “authorized British air strikes against Houthi military positions in Yemen,” wrote the British newspaper, The Times.

A Houthi military source and witnesses on site also indicated that towns in Yemen were targeted by strikes. “American aggression, with British participation” affected Sanaa, Hodeida and Saada, announced Al-Massirah, the Houthi television channel. Agence France-Presse correspondents in Sanaa and Hodeiha, for their part, said they heard several explosions.

Since the start of the war on October 7 between Israel and Hamas, the Houthis, who are close to Iran and control a large part of Yemen, have increased attacks, by missiles and drones, in the Red Sea, near the strait strategic Bab el-Mandeb separating the Arabian Peninsula from Africa. They say they target commercial ships they suspect of being linked to Israel, claiming to act in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

In response, the United States deployed warships and set up an international coalition in December to protect maritime traffic in this area where 12% of world trade passes. Some shipowners are now bypassing the area, which has increased transport costs between Europe and Asia.

“These strikes are a direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks on international maritime vessels in the Red Sea – including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history,” Joe Biden said Thursday evening in a statement. “These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, imperiled commerce, and threatened freedom of navigation. »

” Enough is enough “

The US president said the United States and its allies only made the decision after attempted diplomatic negotiations and extensive deliberations, and added that he “will not hesitate” to “order further measures” to protect America and international trade.

The leader of Yemen’s rebels, Abdel Malek Al-Houthi, threatened Thursday to respond to any American attack in the Red Sea with even “bigger” operations than those, particularly heavy, dating from Tuesday. That day, British and American forces shot down eighteen drones and three missiles fired by the Houthis in the Red Sea, in what the British government called the Yemeni rebels’ “most significant attack” to date.

” Enough is enough. We must be clear with the Houthis that this must stop and that is my simple message to them today: get ready,” British Defense Minister Grant Shapps threatened on Wednesday. “There is no doubt that Iran is behind what is happening in the Red Sea,” he added.

Rishi Sunak spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi on Thursday afternoon. The head of the British government affirmed that “the United Kingdom will continue to take measures to defend freedom of navigation and protect lives at sea”, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday demanded an “immediate” end to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, calling on all states to respect the arms embargo targeting Yemeni rebels.

Other hot spots

The Red Sea is not, far from it, the only hot spot in the region for the United States, which has firmly supported Israel since the bloody Hamas attack on October 7. Since October, American forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked 130 times, according to the Pentagon.

The United States has around 2,500 troops in Iraq, and 900 in Syria, deployed with the aim of preventing a reconstitution of the jihadist group Islamic State.

Last week, the leader of a pro-Iranian faction was killed in Baghdad by an American strike, which aroused the indignation of the Iraqi government, itself supported by parties close to Iran. The Iraqi prime minister subsequently expressed his “firm” determination to put an end to the presence in Iraq of the international anti-jihadist coalition.