USS Carney (Sea Forces online)

Washington accuses Houthis of regional escalation


Fri, 20-10-2023 06:05 PM, Aden

Washington (South24)

Amid warnings about the expansion of the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinian factions, the Pentagon announced that its U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer ‘USS Carney’ had intercepted three land attack cruise missiles and several drones launched by the Iranian-backed Houthis over the northern Red Sea on Thursday. 

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said: “We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched heading north along the Red Sea potentially towards targets in Israel”. Israeli “Channel 13” said that the Houthi missiles were heading toward southern Israel. 

The Wall Street Journal quoted Pentagon officials as saying that “nearly two dozen drones swarmed the USS Carney”.

The Pentagon explained that the destroyer also intercepted three land attack cruise missiles near the Yemeni coast in the northern Red Sea, where the ship was operating.

The US Fifth Fleet announced that the USS Carney arrived in the Middle East on Wednesday. 

In posts on its social media accounts, the US Fifth Fleet said that the goal behind deploying the destroyer is “to help ensure maritime security in the territorial waters”.

According to the newspaper, the Pentagon didn’t divulge how the “USS Carney” shot down drones and intercepted the missiles, only saying that the interception occurred over water.

The Pentagon spokesman added: “These attacks are alarming. We are capable of defending our interests and thwarting any threat”.

Neither the Houthis nor any other groups had commented on the American allegations as of Friday morning.

Following the declaration of the attack, prominent Houthi leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi posted on X, formerly Twitter, referencing previous warnings by the group’s Founder Hussein Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi on the dangers of American intervention in Yemen.

Three days after Hamas’s sudden attack on Israel on October 7th, the Leader of the Houthi militia Abdulmalik Al-Houthi threatened to launch missiles and drones against Israel. He expressed his regret over the geographical obstacles that prevent Yemeni militants from supporting the Palestinian Hamas movement against Israel.

He added: “If the Americans intervene directly in Palestine, we are ready to participate with missile and drone strikes.”

These missile launches from Yemen followed a recent spate of attacks on American forces in Iraq and Syria this week. Two drones attacked Al-Tanf Base near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders on Wednesday, causing minor injuries, according to Pentagon officials.

Furthermore, drones attacked the Al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq, causing minor injuries to some military personnel, according to American officials. They reported that a contractor in the Assad Base had died after suffering a heart attack while attempting to protect himself. 

Prior warnings

South24 Center experts had previously warned of possible Houthi attacks against Israeli or international interests in the Red Sea and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait. If ever there were a proper time for the Houthis to use their anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans, now would be it, despite having refrained from criticizing them directly for other political calculations.

According to experts, “it isn’t unlikely that the Houthis will attack ships affiliated with Israel, especially those coming from the east towards the Port of Eilat (located at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba) via the Bab Al-Mandab Strait. They may directly carry out the attacks or use other allied extremist groups in Yemen for it”. 

The analysis, published by South 24 Center, added that “The Israeli leaders apparently don’t trivialize the seriousness of the Houthi military activities”.

On Wednesday (October 11th), one day after the Houthi leader’s speech, the Yemeni Joint Forces, including the Southern Giants Brigades, announced that they had detected and thwarted suspicious military Houthi activity against international navigation south of Hodeidah on the Red Sea.

In February 2021, the Biden Administration revoked Trump’s decision to designate the Houthis a “terrorist group”. American policies have pushed the Houthis toward more escalation. They have given the group time to rebuild their fighting capabilities and arsenal, including through the accrual of components of cruise missiles and drones partially received from Iran.

Simultaneous escalation

This regional escalation comes amidst growing sharpness in the conflict as the Israeli army engages in a mutual bombing campaign against Palestinian factions on one front and Hezbollah in South Lebanon on another. Most of these groups are official agents of Iran.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly cautioned against the ongoing Israeli attacks or the ground invasion into Gaza.

On Monday, during a TV interview, the Iranian Foreign Minister said: “In the coming hours, we can expect a preemptive action by the resistance front against Israel”.

Regional intensity and Arab anger have escalated due to ongoing Israeli attacks and massacring of civilians in Gaza, which Arab officials described as “barbaric”. Meanwhile, Hamas’s missile attacks against several Israeli cities and towns have persisted. 

Egyptian President Abdulfatah Al-Sisi accused Israel of seeking to displace Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt and denounced these endeavors. Statements by other Arab states also warned of the consequences of such a move.

Palestinian factions and many Arab states have accused Israel of bombing Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza Tuesday night, which led to the killing of about 500 civilians. The Israeli army denied its involvement in the attack and accused the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement of hitting it with a misfired rocket. 

The war between Israel and the Palestinian factions has entered its thirteenth day. Hamas’s attacks have killed about 1,400 Israelis, including 306 military personnel, and injured 4,000 according to the Spokesman for the Israeli Army.

On the other hand, as of Friday night Israeli raids have killed more than 3,850 Palestinians and injured 12,000. 60% of the victims are women and children, according to the latest statistics released by health authorities in Gaza and seen by South 24 Center.

South24 Center

Note: This is a translated version of the original text written in Arabic

U.S. NavyUSS CarneyHouthisIsraelHamasGazaRed Sea