On Thursday we looked at the U.S. response to missiles being fired at our Navy ships off the coast of Yemen by Houthi rebels. It consisted of the USS Nitze pounding some Tomahawk cruise missiles into their radar tracking stations. Unfortunately, it appears that our message was a bit too subtle for them to take the hint. The destroyer USS Mason was fired on by rebel missiles yet again last night… actually this morning in local time. (NBC News)
The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mason was fired on again in international waters off the coast of Yemen, but the ship deployed countermeasures and the vessel was not struck, two U.S. officials said.
The incident occurred late Saturday or early Sunday local time. At least one missile was fired, the officials said.
“The Mason once again appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea, again from coastal defense cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen,” Navy Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told reporters at an event in Baltimore Saturday.
The good news here is that the rebels once again entirely failed to land a shot at the Mason. Our naval electronic warfare systems are good enough to detect when a fire control radar has locked onto them and a launch takes place. Countermeasures are available and were deployed in this case, once again preventing the destroyer from taking fire.
That does not, however, change the bad news from this report. The Houthi rebels are firing missiles at a United States warship in international waters. This means they also have both the will and capability to fire on the military or commercial vessels of other nations. If that isn’t a serious enough charge for the White House to take action I don’t know what it. Yes, we took out some of their radar stations on Thursday, but obviously the message was insufficient to drive the point home for the Houthis, who are also known as Ansar Allah. (Translation: “Supporters of Allah”)
This shouldn’t be our fight and I think most of us would agree that we don’t exactly need yet another war on our hands right now. Saudi Arabia is best positioned to handle this battle and the fact that the Houthis are sponsored by Iran complicates the situation even more. We obviously don’t have to get into a ground war there, but we do have other options. While it’s always difficult to sort out the good guys from the terrorists and collateral damage among civilians needs to be minimized, the Houthis control some fairly well defined territory. If we’re actually backing what’s left of the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi against ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis, some significantly more stern intervention could be required. This could come in the form of more aggressive air strikes or arms and equipment to Hadi’s forces. Yes, we might be propping up the lesser of two evils, but when one of them is lobbing missiles at our warships that shouldn’t be too tough of a call.
Some would argue against more meddling in yet another nation in that part of the world and I would generally lend a sympathetic ear to such complaints. One mistake we don’t want to repeat is the destabilization of more nations in the region, opening the door to more terrorist activity. But in Yemen that horse has already left the barn. The country is a mess, with slavery still being practiced and human trafficking remaining a major concern. The supposedly legitimate government of President Hadi can’t even control their own territory. The fact that the Islamist factions have control of functional military bases and equipment justifies a more aggressive stance on our part.