White House Conducts Additional Strike in Yemen

Biden has met with significant criticism for ordering the attack

The US followed up its widespread bombing of Yemen by conducting another strike early Saturday morning. The second attack came as Biden is facing criticism among his political and Middle East allies for starting a war with the Houthis.

US officials reported that Saturday’s strike targeted a radar facility that was missed during Thursday night’s initial attack. US Central Command posted on X, “The strike was conducted by the USS Carney (DDG 64) using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and was a follow-on action on a specific military target associated with strikes taken on Jan. 12.”

The initial attack was conducted jointly by the US and UK. Washington and London targeted nearly 30 positions across Yemen with scores of missiles and bombs. Pentagon Spokesperson Gen. Pat Ryder said the attack had a “good effect.”

However, Yemen issued a defiant response. Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets across the country to protest the Western attack. Houthi leaders downplayed the impact of the strikes and vowed a response to the attack.

The Biden administration claimed the strikes were needed to restore freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. The Houthis, who control north Yemen and most of the country’s population, have hijacked one ship and attacked about two dozen others transiting the Red Sea. The Houthis say they are targeting Israeli-linked ships because Tel Aviv is conducting a genocide in Gaza.

The White House’s assertion that the strikes are justified to ensure international trade is questionable. For most of the past nine years, Washington and Riyadh have maintained a blockade of Yemen, leading to a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East’s poorest country. The US has also attempted to substantially restrict trade with North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran.

Biden’s authority to order the strikes in a country against which Congress has not authorized a war is in question. “The President needs to come to Congress before launching a strike against the Houthis in Yemen and involving us in another Middle East conflict. That is Article I of the Constitution,” Rep. Ro Khanna posted on X. Democratic lawmakers Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Val Hoyle, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Cori Bush, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Barbara Lee, and Rep. Sarah Jacobs have also publicly attacked Biden over the strikes in Yemen.

The President was also attacked by several conservative Republicans. Rep. Thomas Massie says Congress needs to address Presidential war powers. He posted on X, “The United States has been involved in hostilities in Yemen, in one form or another, for over 5 years now. The sad reality is Congress frequently refuses to assert its authority.”

Biden claims he had the authority to order the strikes as a defensive action. However, the Houthis have never attacked the US. The Houthis are enemies of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a terrorist group that has attacked America. Before Saudi Arabia launched a war against the Houthis in 2015, which the Barack Obama White House elected to support, US Central Command, then led by Gen. Lloyd Austin, backed the Houthis against AQAP.

At the time, Austin, now Secretary of Defense, was enraged by the decision. According to a senior officer who told the Quincy Institute’s Mark Perry, “Lloyd was enraged by the Saudi intervention because we [the Americans] were quietly supporting the Houthi fight against AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] at the time.”

Austin’s role in the current discussions about attacking Yemen is unclear. The Secretary of Defense remains in Walter Reed Hospital after complications from prostate cancer surgery. It was recently disclosed that Austin was incapacitated in the hospital for several days before the White House was aware of his condition. The Pentagon claims the Secretary of Defense is informed on worldwide matters in his hospital bed and signed off on the strikes.

The White House even encountered dissent from one of its core Middle East partners. On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for self-restraint and to avoid escalation.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.