The United States hit more Houthi targets on Friday, one day after President Joe Biden admitted that the strikes weren’t effective in stopping the Iran-backed group.
This has been the sixth US attack on Houthi military sites in Yemen in about a week, bidding to ‘degenerate’ their capability to attack vessels in the Red Sea, as Biden stated at the start of the campaign against the group.
Biden also said at the start of the offensive last week that it was a “message” delivered to Iran, implying that he expected a change of course from Tehran. But the message seems to have been lost in translation –or not received at all. If anything, Iran and its proxies have become more aggressive.
The Houthi attacks on on international shipping began in mid-November after Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei called for blockading Israeli trade.
Iran’s IRGC launched missiles at three neighboring countries in 24 hours this week, claiming to be hitting terrorists or Israeli “spy centers” to avenge the killing of Iran’s top man in Syria and those Iranians who were killed in the twin bombings in Kerman on 3 January. The last target was in Pakistan, a nuclear power.
Then the Houthis on Friday launched their third attack in three days –targeting a US-owned Greek operated tanker, according to the US Central Command. “The crew observed the missiles impact the water near the ship. There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship,” CENTCOM announced on X.
Hours before the CENTCOM announcement, White House chief spokesperson John Kirby was asked why he thinks the airstrikes have failed to stop the attacks and why the Houthis aren’t afraid of the US.
“You’d have to ask the Houthis what’s in their mindset,” he joked away the question, “I’m not going to get in between the ears of the Houthi leaders.” Except that he –or someone in the Biden administration– needs to do exactly do that to understand what is required to end the disruption of global shipping in the Red Sea.
Then there’s Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria.
On Thursday, a $30 million US MQ-9 drone –used for surveillance or strikes– crashed near Balad airbase in Iraq. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose alliance of Iran-linked armed groups that oppose US support for Israel claimed credit.
Iran proxies in Iraq and Syria have launched about 140 attacks on US interests and troops since mid-October, according to the Pentagon. The US has responded with airstrikes from time to time, but attacks against its forces have not stopped.
Then there’s Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The strongest of Iran proxies has been engaged in a low-profile war with the Israeli army since Israel began its onslaught on Gaza last October. Cross-border fire has become a daily routine on both sides.
On Friday, a leader of Hezbollah warned Israel of harsh response, after the Israeli army announced it had destroyed three Hezbollah-linked buildings completely.
“If Israel decides to expand its aggression, it will receive a real slap in the face,” Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s number two said in a statement.”
More than a hundred days after the Hamas rampage of Israel and the subsequent Israeli onslaught on Gaza –which according to Hamas officials has killed at least 25,000 Palestinians– fears of an all-out regional war persist. The Biden administration has managed to avoid direct confrontation with Iran, which many believe is the administration’s main objective. But it has failed to stop Iran’s proxies attacking US interests.
“America’s enemies think Joe Biden is a complete joke,” Congressman Wesley Hunt wrote on X. “This is the weakest President in history, and because of him, the world has never been less safe in our lifetime.”