The United States-led coalition in Yemen has issued a warning to the Houthi rebels, vowing consequences for continued attacks in the Red Sea. This follows a Houthi missile attack on a Saudi tanker in the middle of the Red Sea last week.
The statement from the US and partners condemned the attack, saying it “put innocent people, stability in Yemen and the free flow of commerce in the Bab el Mandeb and the Red Sea at risk” and called on the Houthi leadership to “immediately cease further military hostilities and actions that could further destabilize the region.”
The warning was endorsed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen and the United Kingdom.
The Houthi rebels have been fighting in a civil war against the Yemen government since 2015. In 2017, the Houthi rebels have started to fire ballistic missiles across the border into Saudi Arabia. This recent attack on the Saudi tanker marks a significant escalation in their campaign, and the US-led coalition is now responding with a firm warning.
The coalition’s statement asserted that the “unauthorized and irresponsible actions by the Houthis will not be accepted and there will be consequences” for any further attacks in the Red Sea. It is unclear what form these consequences may take, and it is likely the US and its allies will seek to use diplomatic and economic pressure rather than military force.
Given the renewed threat of violence in the Red Sea, the coalition also appealed to the international community for more assistance, including help in stopping the flow of arms to the Houthi rebels.
It is clear that the US-led coalition is escalating its response to the Houthi’s activities in the Red Sea. Time will tell whether their efforts and warnings are taken seriously by the rebel group.