The decision on Thursday from the United States military to retaliate against armed Houthi missile attacks towards U.S. ships operating in the Red Sea marks a turning point for the troubled region that is divided by regional tensions between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, the U.S. military has conducted drone attacks in Yemen against terrorist leaders and remains an ally of Saudi Arabia.
But the decision on Thursday to retaliate against Houthi aggression after U.S. naval ships were fired upon twice in four days during routine operations in international waters from missiles originating in Houthi controlled areas of Yemen sends a strong message to Yemen’s largest Shia minority group which Saudi Arabia and the U.S. both claim is supported by its regional rival Iran whose navy patrol boats have harassed U.S. navy ships in recent weeks across area in the Persian Gulf.
“The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb, and elsewhere around the world” the Pentagon said in a released statement on Thursday.
Secretary of State John Kerry admitted in February 2015 that Iran contributed to the Houthi takeover and the collapse of the Yemeni government that began on September 21, 2014 after Shia Houthi fighters led by Abdul Malik al-Houthi overthrew the Saudi backed Yemeni government, resulting in the resignation of Yemen Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa and the later resignation of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his ministers.
In March 2015 Saudi Arabia became concerned about the growing instability along its southern border with Yemen and led a military intervention in Yemen along with 9 other regional Arab nations.
The Saudi led military intervention included airstrikes and a navy blockade.
The U.N. claims that at least 10,000 causalities have occurred in Yemen since the 20 month old civil war erupted.
Some other armed groups, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, have already taken advantage of the conflict in Yemen to spread violence against civilians.
Here is recent Thursday video footage of the U.S. Tomahawk missile attack against Houthi radar targets in Yemen that were fired from the USS Nitze.