Last February, President Biden spoke of a US goal of getting out of the war in Yemen. In practice, the administration is going the opposite direction, getting more deeply involved as cross-border strikes threaten to make the war regional.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced it will send a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Cole, and a number of fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates to “assist against the current threat.”
As the Saudis and UAE have increased airstrikes against northern Yemen, the Houthis have launched more missile and drone attacks into those nations. With the US wanting to protect interests in those same nations, they’re going to commit more forces to trying to defend them, particularly the UAE.
The Houthi strikes, particularly against the UAE, have sparked economic concern, but the very real blowback from the war isn’t leading to immediate consideration of scaling back the conflict. Instead, Emirati officials have talked getting involved more deeply in the war, labeling the Houthis “terrorists.” Tensions are rising precipitously.
Biden has spoken approvingly of increased UAE involvement, and is considering relabeling the Houthis as terrorists. The US removed them from the terror list in early 2021 because it was interfering with humanitarian aid into war-torn northern Yemen.
There is some support from hawks for the relabeling, while aid groups are loudly opposed, warning that literally nothing has changed, and the same threat to humanitarian aid should still be the main concern.
Either way, interest in getting out of the war is being undercut as tensions are serving to argue for deeper involvement in an ever more complicated war.