Fears of an all-out regional war in the Middle East are growing as Houthi rebels say the US and UK will pay a “heavy price” for striking more than a dozen targets in Yemen.
In a recorded address, Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said 73 strikes hit five regions of Yemen under their control on Thursday — killing at least five people and wounding six others.
“The American and British enemy bears full responsibility for its criminal aggression against our Yemeni people, and it will not go unanswered and unpunished,” he said.
Senior Houthi official Hussein al-Ezzi also said in a Google-translated post on X: “America and Britain will undoubtedly have to prepare to pay a heavy price and bear all the dire consequences of this blatant aggression,”
Separately, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the chief negotiator and spokesperson for the Iran-funded group, described the US and Britain as having “committed foolishness with this treacherous aggression.
“They were wrong if they thought that they would deter Yemen from supporting Palestine and Gaza,” he said, vowing that the group will continue to target “Israeli ships or those heading to the ports of occupied Palestine.”
But for the past few weeks, the Islamist extremist group has targeted ships that have little to no connection to Israel.
Their activities have grounded commerce in the region to a halt and led some of the world’s largest shipping companies to cease operations in the Red Sea, where about 12% of the world’s trade passes through.
The joint US-UK strikes on Yemen Thursday were intended as a “direct response” to these maritime attacks, President Biden said in a statement.
“These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation,” he said.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also spoke out for the first time since his secret hospitalization to warn of “further costs” if Houthi rebels do not stop attacking ships on the Red Sea.
”Today’s coalition action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will bear the costs if they do not end their illegal attacks,” he said in a statement.
“The United States maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, we will take follow-up actions to protect US forces,” he added.
“We will not hesitate to defend our forces, the global economy and the free flow of legitimate commerce in one of the world’s most viral waterways.”
But Yemeni analysts say the strikes will only serve to strengthen Houthi popularity in the region and its support for Hamas.
Already on Friday, hundreds gathered for a rally chanting “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse the Jews; victory to Islam.”
Hezbollah, which is continuing its barrage with Israeli forces on the Jewish nation’s northern border, also issued a statement saying it “strongly condemn[ed] the blatant American-British aggression,” which it says “confirms once again that the US is a full partner in the tragedies and massacres committed by the Zionist enemy in Gaza and the region.
“It is the one that continues to support the machine of killing and destruction, and to cover up its aggression and crime and the attacks on everyone who stands by the oppressed Palestinian people throughout the region,” the terrorist group said, according to the Guardian.
Iranian officials also released a statement saying the attacks “are a clear violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and a breach of international laws.
“These attacks will only contribute to insecurity and instability in the region,” they warned.
With Post wires.