US is ‘too passive’ in Red Sea and should strike Houthi leaders, retired US general says

A retired US general said the United States had been too passive towards the Houthis, letting them dominate the Red Sea, and said it should go after their leaders instead.

“We’ve been too passive,” Kenneth F. McKenzie, who previously headed U.S. Central Command, told CBS’s Face The Nation on Sunday.

“We have allowed the Houthis to truly dominate global maritime communications by effectively closing the Suez Canal,” he said.

The Houthis are using drones and missiles to target ships in the Red Sea corridor to exert pressure on Israel and the West over the Gaza war.

As a result, the main sea lanes had to be guarded by a carrier strike group of the US Navy and ships of European countries.

The U.S. Navy’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group spent months fighting the Houthis in key shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to enable the safe transit of international commercial shipping.

The US strike group – made up of an aircraft carrier and several other warships – took on more than 400 Houthi targets in dozens of self-defense operations, according to data shared by officials. the Navy with Business Insider last month.

But McKenzie, who oversaw the high-profile special forces raid in Syria in 2019 to kill or capture then-IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said the United States essentially “caught, not launched” in the Red Sea, despite the deployment of “several warships worth billions of dollars.

While acknowledging that the U.S. Navy had increased its use of munitions, he said it must address the source of the attacks: Houthi leaders and command and control facilities in Yemen.

“I would say the threat of escalation is very low if we carry out these attacks,” McKenzie said.

The sheer number of ships engaged in the region makes it the largest battle the U.S. Navy has been engaged in since World War II, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper told “60 Minutes” in February.

That same month, Rear Admiral Marc Miguez, commander of the US strike group, told BI that they had planes in the sky “all the time.”

“It’s a huge effort,” Miguez said.

According to an article from the Arab Institute for the Gulf States in Washington, the Houthis are difficult to degrade or deter, in part because Iran supports them with weapons, but also because they use the conflict to strengthen their internal support in Yemen.

Yahya Sare’e, a spokesman for the Yemeni armed forces, vowed to continue attacks until Israeli “aggression” in Gaza ceases, according to Reuters.

Last month, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned of the prospect of a prolonged conflict, saying the threat from the Houthis would likely remain active for some time.

In an analysis published in February, BI editor Michael Peck said the United States could face the same fate as Egypt, which sent 70,000 troops to Yemen and waged a relentless bombing campaign in the 1960s , but failed to suppress the group.


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