Following the ongoing attacks in the Red Sea, the British are now agitating for an escalation against the Houthis. Britain’s military is preparing to launch a wave of air strikes against the Houthis, raising the prospect of a significant spiraling of tensions in the region, reported The Times of London yesterday. Under the plans the U.K. would join with the U.S. and possibly European countries to unleash a salvo of missiles against pre-planned targets, either in the sea or in Yemen itself, where the militants are based.
A Whitehall source said the coordinated strikes could involve RAF warplanes for the first time or HMS Diamond, a guided missile destroyer sailing in the Red Sea. It is expected that an unprecedented statement will be released by the U.K. and the U.S. which will warn the Houthis to stop attacking commercial vessels or face the military might of the West. Ahead of the statement, U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said: “If the Houthis continue to threaten lives and trade, we will be forced to take the necessary and appropriate action.” The Whitehall source said the statement was a “last warning” and if the Houthis failed to stop the attacks, the response would likely be “limited” but “significant.”
On Sunday night, Dec. 31, 2023, a U.K. government spokeswoman said there was planning underway for a “range of scenarios” but no decisions had yet been made. The spokeswoman said: “The situation in the Red Sea is incredibly serious, and the Houthi attacks are unacceptable and destabilizing. As you would expect, while planning is underway for a range of scenarios, no decisions have yet been made and we continue to pursue all diplomatic routes. We call for the Iranian-backed Houthis to cease these illegal attacks and we are working with allies and partners to protect freedom of navigation.”
At the same time, the Financial Times reports that the U.S. Treasury has imposed new sanctions on Turkish and Yemeni individuals and entities thought to be “facilitating the flow of Iranian financial assistance to Houthi forces and their destabilizing activities.” This included currency exchange companies in the two countries. The Treasury claimed these networks “facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars to the Houthis at the direction of … Sa’id al-Jamal,” a financier affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.