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February 26, 2024

US Intercepts Houthi Missiles Amid Heightened Tensions

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Feb 5, 2024

Tensions between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and the United States have escalated in recent days, with the US military intercepting Houthi missiles and launching retaliatory strikes. This comes as Houthi aggression appears to be on the rise.

Timeline of Recent Events

On January 30th, a missile attack targeted a military base hosting US troops in Jordan. While no group claimed responsibility, US officials suspect Houthi rebels or Iranian proxies were behind it [1]. Iran threatened retaliation if the US were to respond with force.

Tensions continued to rise over the next few days. On February 1st, the Houthis claimed they targeted a US naval ship off the coast of Yemen with missiles, but US officials said no ship was struck [2].

On February 2nd, the US military shot down a Houthi missile threatening an American plane in Yemeni airspace [3].

Most recently, on February 3rd, the US intercepted another Houthi missile headed towards a base hosting American troops in Saudi Arabia [4]. The Houthis warned of retaliation.

Date Event
January 30 Missile attack targets US base in Jordan
February 1 Houthis claim attack on US ship off Yemen coast
February 2 US shoots down Houthi missile in Yemen
February 3 US intercepts Houthi missile in Saudi Arabia

Escalating Houthi Aggression

This recent uptick in Houthi missile attacks targeting US assets suggests the Iran-backed group is becoming more aggressive. Experts say the Houthis likely see escalation as an opportunity to gain leverage in negotiations and secure sanctions relief [5].

“The Houthis may see escalation as an opportunity to improve their negotiating position and secure the removal of their terrorist designation,” said Ali Soufan, CEO of Soufan Group security firm.

The Houthis are fighting against the internationally recognized government in Yemen, which is supported by Saudi Arabia. The civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created one of the worst humanitarian crises.

While a UN-brokered ceasefire in early 2022 brought some reprieve, talks have stalled. The US is urging restraint, but analysts say the Houthis feel emboldened by Iranian support to keep up attacks.

“As long as Iran believes it can manage escalation dynamics, they will likely encourage Houthi aggression,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

What’s Next?

With missiles intercepted multiple days in a row, many expect the US may feel compelled to respond more forcefully soon. But military action also risks dragging the US further into the conflict.

“There will be growing calls for kinetic retaliation to deter future Houthi attacks,” Taleblu said. “But policymakers understand how slippery a slope that is.”

For now, the US seems focused on beefing up regional missile defense systems. Officials called recent intercepts a vindication of US-supplied Patriot batteries in Saudi Arabia.

But ultimately resolving the Yemen civil war likely requires a new political settlement. UN Envoy Hans Grundberg continues efforts to get both sides back to the negotiating table.

Analysts say the Houthis may be using aggression now in hopes of extracting concessions later if talks resume. But repeatedly targeting American forces also risks provoking a fierce response. It’s a dangerous balancing act that could spiral out of control.

“While seeking leverage, the Houthis are playing with fire,” Soufan said. “If missiles struck US troops, it would be a major red line crossed.”

All sides show signs of digging in further. Unless diplomacy gains traction, lasting de-escalation remains elusive as tensions reach new heights. The road ahead is clouded with uncertainty as Yemen’s civil war increasingly entangles the US.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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