Houthi rebels attempt to shoot down US ship, US retaliates

The targeted US ship, the USS Mason.

After two missiles from a Houthi-controlled area were shot at the USS Mason earlier this week, and both missed, the US military quickly replied by launching Tomahawk missiles at the radar centers that targeted the ship. President Obama himself authorized the airstrikes, according to reports.

The US Navy recorded the USS Nitze firing the Tomahawk missiles, and you can watch the video on YouTube here. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook denied that the attack signaled greater US involvement in the Yemeni civil war.

“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation,” Cook said.

According to officials, the three radar sites that targeted the USS Mason were destroyed in the US’s retaliation.

Analysis as to why these shots were fired seem to be wildly varying; there are some that think that the Houthis are trying to pull the US into the Yemeni civil war, and some think that it was just the Houthis lashing out after the disastrous funeral airstrike in Yemen a few days ago. The US was not directly involved in carrying out the airstrike, but has been providing military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of the Yemeni government.

Both of these theories have problems, so I’m not really sure which I think is right. I think the Houthis have little motivation to try and pull the US into the Yemeni civil war, because it’d basically be suicide. The support the Houthis would get from countries like Iran after bringing the US in would not be worth it.

The second theory just seems a little bit dumb to me. Even if the Houthis were under great emotional unrest from the funeral strikes, surely they aren’t dumb enough to try and provoke the world’s greatest military? Furthermore, the US was not directly involved in the airstrike on the funeral. If they wanted revenge, the Houthis would attack the country that actually had the biggest part, Saudi Arabia. And they’re already at war with them, so they wouldn’t be risking anything by shooting missiles at Saudi ships.

So I’m not really sure what caused the rebels to attempt a strike on the USS Mason. If I had to guess, I would say it’s probably both of the two theories operating in tandem, because neither really sounds plausible alone, but even then that answer doesn’t quite satisfy me. So take it with a grain of salt. Either way, it was a pretty bad idea to attempt, and the sad fact that the rebels still missed, twice, is a little bit funny. If you’re trying to provoke war with a superpower, you’d better make sure your missiles are aimed correctly, guys.

I just hope that this event doesn’t signal the beginning of us getting more involved in Yemen.

Please God, no.

Other posts I have written about Yemen:

Some background on the Yemeni civil war, Part One

Saudi Arabia says Houthis required to disband militia for peace deals


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