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Biden Team Decides Against Striking Back at Houthi Rebels Despite Recent Attacks

Houthi rebel fighters display their weapons during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Iranian-backed Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen. AP/Hani Mohammed
Houthi rebel fighters display their weapons during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Iranian-backed Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen. AP/Hani Mohammed

By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation

The Biden administration has decided against striking back at Houthi targets for now, despite recent incidents in which U.S. warships in the region shot down Houthi attack drones flying toward the vessels, Politico reported.

Some military officers believe the U.S. should mount a more forceful response to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, but high-level politicians in the administration believe those options do not make sense in the current circumstances, Politico reported, citing three U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The administration has not determined that the Houthis intentionally targeted U.S. warships, one of which was involved in an hours-long firefight on Sunday while responding to distress calls from commercial vessels under attack.

Separately, the U.S.S. Mason guided-missile destroyer shot down another drone in the Red Sea on Wednesday with no injury to troops or damage to the vessel, a U.S. military official told Politico.

Military officers in charge of Middle East operations have created options to strike back at Houthi targets where the drones were launched, but are not actively trying to carry them out, one official and another military official told Politico.

President Joe Biden has not been briefed on the options or received a recommendation to counterattack despite holding several high-level meetings in recent days, two officials told the outlet.

“I’m not going to telegraph or speculate on potential strikes in the future. As you’ve heard us say, we’re going to do what’s necessary to protect our forces,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday, adding that the National Security Council is involved in discussions with international partners over a combined maritime task force.

Some current and former officials argue the Houthi’s increasingly aggressive behavior is endangering American troops, according to Politico.

High-level Biden administration officials believe the Houthis do pose a threat to U.S. military personnel in the region, but that they are intending to target Israel-linked vessels, not the U.S. warships, Politico reported.

The administration still harbors concern that Iran, which finances and arms the Houthis in Yemen as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon, could escalate and cause conflict between Israel and Hamas to spill into the region.

White House decision-makers are weighing whether striking back at the Houthis would derail U.S. and United Nations efforts to broker a cessation of hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, a fifth official told Politico. Saudi Arabia has also urged the U.S. to curtail responses, Reuters reported.

“What we don’t want to see is the conflict in Israel widen to a regional war. As of today, it has not,” Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said on Monday.

The Pentagon and the National Security Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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