The Pentagon responded Tuesday to missiles being fired at both a US Navy destroyer and an accompanying ship off the coast of Yemen over the weekend. Officials made it clear that whoever had fired the missiles had done so “at their own peril.” The two cruise missiles were fired on Sunday from territory in Yemen that is currently under Houthi-control.
The language used by Pentagon officials indicates that retaliation may be imminent in response to the strike. Specifically, the comment came from Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis. Luis Martinez, a writer for Yahoo News, noted that Davis said: “Anytime anyone engages a US Navy ship at sea in hostility, they do so at great peril to themselves.”
Davis also noted that an investigation would be conducted to determine accountability before countermeasures are taken. He said: “We want very much to get to the bottom of what happened. We’re going to find out who did this, and we’ll take action accordingly.” As of yet, no direct party has been labeled as responsible for the incident.
The US has been involved in a Saudi-led battle against the Houthis, though their presence in the conflict has been drawn back in recent months. Heavy concerns about civilian casualties resulted in this halt in participation.
The Houthis, who are allies of Iran, have denied firing at the ships. However, US officials are currently operating under the assumption that Houthi forces were indeed responsible for Sunday’s incidents. A week before this incident, the Houthis acknowledged firing at a vessel from the United Arab Emirates.
Davis spoke about this event and possible connections, saying: “The Houthis have said publicly before that they would target any ships in that area that were supporting the coalition against them. So the facts certainly seem to point to it, but we are still assessing and we will have more for you.”
Continued tension in this area and those surrounding it have raised more concerns about the safety of nearby civilians, neighboring countries, and those who are traveling near the area. Given that there is still a great degree of political and economic instability in the area, attack of this type are not uncommon.
While this type of destabilization is known to breed conflicts, US officials are not prepared to tolerate fire against a peaceful ship. Given that these types of conflicts will set standards for future travel in international waters, officials are adamant about sending a message that these types of acts cannot be tolerated.
This type of incident may lead to increased security during future trips near the areas of interest. US officials will likely alter their methods for transportation to a certain degree while also conducting an investigation. Though assessing things properly will help lead to an appropriate resolution, officials are still taking a defense approach to the situation. This approach involves a readiness for future attacks and a commitment to making sure that these types of instances are prevented from occurring again.