Houthi fighters

Houthi fighters brandish their weapons during a march in the capital Sanaa on January 11, 2024.

(Photo: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images)

'All American and British Interests Have Become Legitimate Targets,' Houthis Say

The military spokesman for Yemen's Houthis said the U.S.-U.K. airstrikes would "not go unanswered or unpunished."

Yemen's Houthis vowed Friday to respond to airstrikes carried out hours earlier by U.S. and U.K. forces, calling the Western nations' bombing campaign an "unjustified and illegitimate" attack.

"All American and British interests have become legitimate targets for the Yemeni Armed Forces in response to their direct and announced aggression against the Yemeni Republic," the Houthis' Supreme Political Committee said in a statement as tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets to protest the strikes.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, the Houthis' military spokesman, declared in a recorded address that U.S.-U.K. bombing would "not go unanswered or unpunished."

The Biden administration said Thursday's strikes, which did not receive congressional authorization, were launched in retaliation for Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea—attacks that the Houthis say will continue until Israel ends its U.S.-backed war on Gaza.

"We affirm the commitment of the Yemeni Republic to what was declared at the beginning of its naval operation to end the blockade, stop the aggression, end the genocidal war on Gaza, and allow the entry of food, medicine, fuel, and all means of life," the Houthis' political committee said Friday.

"Instead of avoiding a wider war, the U.S. and its allies are escalating regional tensions and adding fuel to a conflict that has already spilled over to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Red Sea."

Late Thursday's airstrikes drew condemnation from around the world—including within the U.S. and U.K.—and further intensified fears of a broader regional conflict as the Israeli assault on Gaza continues with no end in sight.

As Al Jazeera reported, Oman "denounced the military action from 'friendly countries,'" with the nation's foreign minister saying the attack "went against his country's advice and will only add fuel to an extremely dangerous situation."

In addition to bombing Yemen, a deeply poor nation that has endured years of U.S.-backed Saudi-led bombing, the Biden administration has launched airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks, targeting Iran-aligned militias that have attacked American forces stationed in the region.

"Instead of avoiding a wider war, the U.S. and its allies are escalating regional tensions and adding fuel to a conflict that has already spilled over to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Red Sea," Mohamad Bazzi, director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies and a journalism professor at New York University, wrote in a column for The Guardian on Friday.

"The U.S. and its allies are resisting the clearest path for de-escalation across the region: putting pressure on Israel to end its invasion and accept a cease-fire," Bazzi added. "The U.S.-led military strikes are likely to have the opposite effect: Already, Houthi leaders are defiant and have promised to continue their attacks on shipping and to target U.S. and allied ships in the region."

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