Strikes Against the Houthis Should Not Be a One-Off

After more than 40 Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the overdue and limited U.S. and British strikes that hit the Iran-backed terrorist group in Yemen on January 12 will likely prove insufficient to deter further attacks. The combined strikes by aircraft, warships, and submarines against 60 targets at 16 locations marked an important shift from a purely reactive, defensive posture toward a more offensive stance to degrade the capabilities of the Houthis. However, the strikes were too limited to achieve their stated purpose of “degrading” Houthi capabilities—they surely retain a sufficient arsenal to continue their attacks.

Coalition military efforts should instead seek to deter Houthi attacks by imposing costs greater than the benefits the terrorist group achieves by disrupting global shipping. This will require conducting more frequent, deadlier, and damaging strikes against Houthi, Iranian regime, and other proxy operational leaders and command-and-control center targets that undermines their ability to exert power over territory in the Middle East.