President Joe Biden said last week that military strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen will continue even as they fail to stop attacks on shipping.
“Are the airstrikes in Yemen working?” Biden was asked last week as he departed the White House.
“Well, when you say ‘working,’ are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes,” Biden said.
The quote comes about the 34-second mark of the video below.
The Houthis began firing weapons at shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in November, claiming it was in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. On Jan. 9, the U.S., assisted by Britain, launched an attack on Houthi military capability. That has been followed up by multiple attacks at Houthi sites.
U.S. Central Command said in a statement Saturday that an attack foiled an anti-ship missile launch, one day after announcing three targets were destroyed.
As the slaps at the Houthis continue, it remains unclear what the Biden administration’s end game looks like, according to The Washington Post.
U.S. officials the newspaper did not name said that there is no clear estimate of when the Houthis will be sufficiently damaged for the attacks to stop, noting that U.S. Navy forces are seeking to block weapons shipments to the Houthis from Iran.
“We’re not trying to defeat the Houthis. There’s no appetite for invading Yemen,” said a diplomat the Post did not name.
“The appetite is to degrade their ability to launch these kind of attacks going forward, and that involves hitting the infrastructure that enables these kind of attacks, and targeting their higher-level capabilities,” the diplomat said.
“It’s impossible to forecast exactly what’s going to happen, and certainly not [to predict] future operations,” another U.S. official who was not named said.
“But the principle that it simply can’t be tolerated for a terrorist organization … with these advanced capabilities to essentially shut down or control shipping through a key international choke point is one that we feel very strongly about,” the official said.
The Houthis are giving every indication they don’t intend to give up without a fight even as new questions arise about U.S. strategy.
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said some missiles used against the Houthis cost $2 million each.
“So you’ve got this issue that will be emerging of how long can we continue to fire expensive missiles,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut noted that weakening terrorist groups is a challenge.
“The Houthis were rebuilding even as the Saudis bombed them. So it’s sobering,” Blumenthal said. “There’s no question that we should be very clear-eyed about the difficulties here.”
White House spokesman John Kirby was upbeat about the U.S. attacks, according to ABC.
The attacks have had “good effects on degrading some of these Houthi capabilities. They still have some offensive capability and we’re going to keep taking the actions we believe we need to take to defend ourselves,” he said.
“The Houthis need to stop these attacks,” he said. “They can make that choice. Clearly, they’ve made opposite choices. So, we have choices to make, too. And — and we have options available to us as well. We’ll continue to explore those options. Clearly, one of the options that we are and will continue to take are in the military realm as needed.”