The Biden Administration continues to pay lip service to the idea of ending US military involvement in the Yemen War. Despite this, American involvement is only deepening, and in the most problematic ways.
A new US naval task force of 2-8 ships will be patrolling the Red Sea off the Yemeni coast. Nominally, this will aim to stop the smuggling of “people, coal, weapons, and drugs” into Yemen.
It’s not that this is really a “new” effort, but rather just an addition to the Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemen, which itself was supposed to stop weapons getting into Yemen.
In practice, no faction in Yemen ever seems short of weapons. At the same time, the delays caused by the blockade have caused massive food and fuel shortages across northern Yemen, and killed a number of people who are no longer able to import their medication.
Fighting in Yemen and cross-border attacks have the US feeling pressure to do something with regards to the war, and right now that means doubling down on the already failed blockade.
The move likely will please the UAE and the other allies involved in the war, but probably will have little impact on weapons flow into Yemen. If history is any indicator, the addition of more blockade ships may undercut the easing of the blockade for the ongoing Ramadan ceasefire.
Pleasing the UAE is seen as a priority now, with Secretary of State Tony Blinken having apologized to them for not doing more in response to cross-border violence. It won’t work and just echoes what the Saudis are doing, but at this point in the war that’s very much beside the point.