Yemen’s Nonexistent Missile Attack: US Retaliation Claim Now Seen as an Act of Aggression

October 17th, 2016 - by admin & The Week & CNN & CommonDreams – 2016-10-17 02:24:15

US Again Attacks Yemen Coast, Despite Growing Doubts Over ‘Missiles’

US strikes Yemen after missiles launched on warship.

US Again Attacks Yemen Coast,
Despite Growing Doubts Over ‘Missiles’

Jason Ditz /

(October 16, 2016) — US warships have once again attacked Yemen’s Red Sea coast after reporting for the third time in a week that they came under fire from the area by anti-ship missiles, a large number of which were fired but none of which actually hit anything. At least, that was the story initially.

After once again attacking Houthi targets along the coast, in spite of any evidence that the Houthis fired the missiles at them, officials are now saying they’re not even sure about the missiles, and are looking into the possibility that the USS Mason, which has claimed all the attacks, has a radar malfunction which is generating ghost signals.

This raises the possibility that the US warships are not only retaliating against the wrong people, but that there was nothing to retaliate against in the first place. Though there was some speculation that remnants of the Yemeni military were involved in firing missiles, by way of explaining why the Houthis were denying it, this must inevitably raise questions if anything happened at all other than the heavy-handed US reaction.

The Pentagon has been desperate to portray their attacks on Houthi radar installations as distinct from the ongoing Saudi war against the Houthis, which the US is already participating in. With the possibility that the attacks were a colossal error, however, it’s only going to add to its association to the blunder-ridden Saudi war.

US Warship Fires Additional Missiles at Yemen Amid uncertain circumstances
The Week

(October 16, 2016) — The Navy destroyer USS Mason fired at the coastline of civil war-wracked Yemen for the third time in a week Saturday after the ship detected what may have been incoming missiles.

Though the warship’s crew initially believed themselves to be under fire, the Navy now says it also could have been a radar malfunction. “We are aware of the reports and we are assessing the situation. All of our ships and crews are safe and unharmed,” said a Defense Department official.

Previously, the Mason was fired upon and launched missiles in return this past Sunday night and Thursday morning. The ship is stationed near Yemen as part of US support for a Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen’s internal conflict. For more on the effects of the Saudi onslaught and the nature of US backing, see this analysis from The Week‘s Michael Brendan Dougherty. Bonnie Kristian

USS Mason Fires Missiles in Red Sea after Apparent Attack
Barbara Starr and Caroline Kenny / CNN

(October 15, 2016) — The Navy destroyer USS Mason fired countermeasures in the Red Sea on Saturday after it detected what it believed were incoming missiles.

Officials Saturday night were uncertain about what exactly happened, if there were multiple incoming missiles or if there was a malfunction with the radar detection system on the destroyer.

“We are aware of the reports and we are assessing the situation. All of our ships and crews are safe and unharmed,” one US defense official told CNN. The USS Nitze and the USS Ponce were sailing nearby.

There are initial unconfirmed reports of missiles possibly being fired from positions both ashore on Yemen and by small spotter boats operated by Houthi rebels. The incident was revealed Saturday by Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson during a ship christening in Baltimore.

Earlier Saturday night, a second US defense official said there were multiple incoming surface-to-surface missiles detected by the Mason. In reaction, the Mason fired multiple missiles using onboard countermeasures, the two officials said. NBC News first reported the incident.

Early Thursday, the US launched tomahawk cruise missiles into Yemen targeting radar sites in Houthi-held territory, sites the US claims were used to launch missiles in two previous incidents this week.

Tensions Escalate as Iran Sends Warships After US Bombs Yemen
Deirdre Fulton / CommonDreams

(October 13, 2016) — Iran reportedly sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, following news of the first-ever US cruise missile strikes on Iran-backed Houthis late Wednesday.

The republic’s naval commander confirmed that two naval destroyers had been deployed off the Yemeni coast “to protect trade vessels,” as the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

RT reports that the commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, “dismissed claims the fleet has been deployed to intervene in the conflict in Yemen.”

But given that “[m]any see the Yemen conflict as a proxy war between the Middle East’s two main rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and their western or regional backers,” as the Guardian put it on Thursday, the latest development could further ratchet up tensions in the region.

Indeed, Stephen Seche, who served as the US ambassador to Yemen from 2007 to 2010, told the newspaper in response to the US escalation: “It’s not at all a stretch of the imagination, to my mind, that the Iranians benefit from seeing the US drawn into this.”

But Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, on Thursday said that despite the missile attacks on Yemen, the US military is not interested in expanding its involvement in the war.

“We don’t seek a wider role in this conflict,” Cook said, claiming the strikes were a limited reprisal to defend the USS Mason and freedom of navigation in the Bab al-Mandeb waterway, “not connected to the broader conflict in Yemen.”

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