Two U.S. officials report that senior Biden administration officials are actively considering options to launch a retaliatory strike against the Houthis in Yemen, following Saturday’s attacks on commercial and naval vessels in the Red Sea by the Iran-backed group.
To support a prospective U.S. response to attacks, the Pentagon has relocated the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, according to one of the officials (both of whom were granted anonymity to discuss sensitive plans).
The military has also provided commanders with strike options against the Houthis, according to the official.
The Biden administration has exhibited hesitancy in implementing a military response to the Houthi assaults on commercial shipping in recent weeks due to concerns of inciting Iran, an ally of the Houthis, Hamas, and Hezbollah in Yemen.
However, a substantial increase in assaults in recent days may cause senior U.S. national security officials to reconsider their assessment.
Early Saturday morning, fourteen unidirectional attack drones launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen were intercepted by the destroyer USS Carney while it was at sea in the Red Sea.
In the interim, a Houthi drone was also brought down by the British destroyer HMS Diamond, which had recently arrived in the region to assist in the protection of commercial shipping.
A Houthi drone struck and ignited the Liberian-flagged motor vessel Al Jasrah in the Red Sea on Friday.
Houthi forces also launched two ballistic missiles toward the Bab el-Mandeb strait on the same day; one of these missiles targeted the Palatium 3, a motor vessel flying the Liberian flag. At the time, United States warships responded to the attacks.
Commercial market conditions have been profoundly affected by the assault. Maersk, the largest shipping company globally, suspended all cargo and energy shipments traversing the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a critical passageway connecting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, on Friday.