Escalation Nation: Yemen Retaliates for US-backed Saudi Massacre; US Blindly Lashes Back
October 14, 2016
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Richard Sisk / Military.com & Alex Emmons / The Intercept
Four days ago, the Saudi coalition bombed a funeral in the Yemeni capital, killing 125 and wounding 525 in one of the worst massacres of the war. Fragments of US-made bombs were found at the scene. Following this war crime, missiles were fired in the direction of a US destroyer cruising off Yemen's coast. In response, Washington destroyed there radar stations belonging to the Shi'ite Houthis. Houthi forces denied launching the missiles and vowed to respond in kind to the US use of military force.
After Attacking Yemen's Houthis, US Admits
They Don't Know Who Fired Missiles
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 13, 2016) -- Last night, the United States attacked and destroyed a series of radar stations belonging to the Shi'ite Houthis in Yemen, along the Red Sea coast. This was described as retaliation for the missiles fired sort of near a US destroyer off shore, and presented as preventing future such strikes.
Yet today, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook admitted that the US still hasn't actually made any determination who fired those missiles in the first place. It is unclear why they retaliated against the Houthis, who denied involvement, apart from Cook saying that the US believes Iran has "been supportive of the Houthi rebels."
Still, this act in haste and repent at leisure attitude doesn't appear to be changing, with Cook vowing the US would "be prepared to respond again" if they think ships off the Yemeni coast are threatened, with the implied threat that they'll attack the Houthis some more, whether or not they ever determine if the Houthis did anything.
Pentagon officials are also trying to insist that their attacks on the Houthis are totally distinct from the ongoing Saudi war against the Houthis, which the US is already heavily involved in, meaning this amounts to a second, separate war against the Houthis, with even less of a pretext. The Pentagon appears uncomfortable with connecting their heedless attacks to the myriad war crimes in the extent war.
The Houthis reiterated today that they had nothing to do with the missiles fired near the US ship, and insisted they consider the US attacks "unacceptable." They warned that they have the right to defend themselves from future US attacks.
US Can't Say Who Launched Missiles from Yemen at Navy Ships
Richard Sisk / Military.com
(October 13, 2016) -- The US has yet to determine who was responsible for the launch of missiles at Navy warships in the Red Sea from areas in Yemen in the control of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.
"We don't know who was pulling the trigger," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said, but the missiles were launched from "Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. Iran has played a role and been supportive of the Houthi rebels." The Houthis have denied carrying out the attacks.
At 4 a.m. local time Thursday, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Nitze launched missiles at three radar sites in coastal Yemen in retaliation for the attempted attacks on Navy warships, Cook said.
The initial assessment was that the sites were destroyed and there were no indications of civilian casualties, he added.
"These strikes were in response to attempted missile attacks in recent days against USS Mason and other vessels in the Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb," Cook said at a Pentagon news conference.
Read the full account at the Military.com link.
US Enters Yemen War Directly for the First Time With Attack on Houthis
Alex Emmons / The Intercept
(October 13, 2016) -- The US military directly attacked Houthi rebels in Yemen for the first time on Wednesday -- firing Tomahawk cruise missiles at three rebel-held radar stations on the Red Sea coast. The attack, which was in retaliation for a failed missile attack on a US Navy destroyer on Sunday, risks drawing the US further into the 18-month war.
In March 2015, a coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia began a US-backed bombing campaign against the Houthi forces, which four months earlier had seized Yemen's capital and deposed the country's US- and Saudi-backed dictator. Since then, the US has flown refueling missions for Saudi aircraft, supplied targeting intelligence, and resupplied the Saudi effort with tens of billions of dollars of weapons.
While the US has previously conducted direct attacks in Yemen against al Qaeda -- which controls vast territory in central and eastern Yemen -- it had not directly engaged Houthi forces before.
The escalation began last week when the US dispatched warships to the Bab al-Mandab Strait -- which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden -- after the Houthis fired on and nearly sank a ship from the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a part of the Saudi-led bombing coalition, which has maintained a strict naval blockade of the country since the war began.
When the Houthis fired on the USS Mason earlier this week, sailors were able to deploy countermeasures and the ship was not damaged.
The Department of Defense issued a statement describing the US attack as a series of "limited self-defense strikes," but promised to "respond to any further threat" to US ships "as appropriate."
"The intent of our strikes were to deter future attacks and to reduce the risk to US and other vessels," White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said Thursday. "We are prepared to respond if necessary to any future missile launches."
The US Navy tweeted a video of the destroyer USS. Nitze launching cruise missiles, captioning it with the hashtag "#Yemen" -- commonly used by activists to draw attention to the humanitarian catastrophe.
Schultz said the strike was approved by President Obama on the recommendation of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pentagon officials told NPR that they had "no sense of any civilians being killed," but it is unclear how they know, and what type of review was undertaken.
Houthi forces denied having launched the missiles at a US destroyer, and promised to respond to kind to the display of military force.
The attack came just after the first sign that the Obama administration might be having second thoughts about the massacres committed by the Saudi coalition with US weapons.
Just four days ago, the Saudi coalition bombed the funeral of a rebel-appointed government minister's father, killing 125 and wounding 525 in one of the worst massacres of the war. Fragments of what appeared to be US-made bombs were photographed at the scene.
The White House responded by promising to initiate a review of US assistance to Saudi Arabia, and issued its first public threat to stop supporting the coalition. "US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check," Ned Price, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement. Price added that the administration is "prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with US principles, values and interests."
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