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Defensive Strikes on Houthi Militias: Assessing Impact and Future Implications

In a recent turn of events, the US-led strikes on alleged positions of Houthi militias in Yemen have raised questions about their effectiveness in curbing the group’s military capabilities. According to a report from the New York Times, the strikes, launched with the support of the UK, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, aimed to weaken the Houthi threat to shipping routes in the Red Sea.

Strike Results and Military Capability
The initial assessment of Friday’s barrage, as reported by the New York Times, indicates that approximately 90% of the designated targets were hit. Despite this seemingly high success rate, insights from two US officials suggest that the strikes only managed to destroy or damage arround 60 drone and missile sites. Astonishingly, the Houthi militias reportedly retained 70-80% of their military capability.

Mobility Challenges
A significant hurdle faced in this operation is the mobility of some of the militia’s assets. The ability to relocate assets makes it challenging for Western forces to entirely neutralize the Houthi threat. The article underscores that these mobile assets can be easily hidden when necessary, complicating the task of locating and targeting them effectively.

Complexity in Target Identification
The New York Times highlights the unexpected difficulty in locating Houthi targets. Western efforts intensified notably after the eruption of the Hamas-Israel conflict on October 7. The Houthis, in control of most of Yemen, aligned themselves with the Palestinian armed group, targeting both Israeli assets and vessels linked to Israel in the region.

Future Plans and Global Reactions
Despite President Joe Biden declaring the strikes a success and accusing the Houthi militias of “endangering freedom of navigation,” the article suggests that the US may launch another barrage after analyzing the impact of the initial strikes. However, experts anticipate a potential Houthi retaliation in reponse to the Western attacks.

International Response
The global community has reacted with a mix of opinions. While the EU exhibits varied reactions, with some members favoring a more restrained approach to the security crisis in the Middle East, Russia has strongly condemned the strikes. Moscow deems them “illegal” and asserts that they violate the UN Charter. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warns of the risk of derailing the Yemen reconciliation process and triggering destabilization across the entire Middle East.

In conclusion, the aftermath of the defensive strikes raises critical questions about their efficacy, the challenges posed by Houthi mobility, and the complex geopolitical landscape surrounding the conflict. As the world watches, the potential for further escalation and its repercussions remains uncertain.

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