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Yemen’s Houthis undeterred by strikes, senior US Navy commander says

In an exclusive interview, the US Navy’s top commander in the Middle East leveled with Al-Monitor about what the current campaign against the Houthis has achieved, saying diplomatic pressure could ultimately get the Iran-backed rebels to halt their brazen attacks on international commercial shipping.
Rear Adm. George M. Wikoff, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70, speaks to the crew over the 1MC aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85).

MANAMA, Bahrain — Yemen’s Houthi rebels remain undeterred from attacking international commercial shipping more than a month into a US-led campaign of strikes aimed at knocking out their capabilities, the top US Navy officer overseeing the effort told Al-Monitor.

“The Houthis right now are continuing their terrorist activities despite our actions,” Vice Adm. George Wikoff said during his first press interview since taking the helm of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain earlier this month.

On Sunday, the United States and the UK launched a fourth wave of allied-backed airstrikes on 18 Houthi military targets across Yemen, including missile and drone stockpiles as well as radar sites. Hours earlier, the Houthis fired a ballistic missile toward a US-owned chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

Since assuming command on Feb. 1, Wikoff has overseen Navy forces leading the strikes authorized by President Joe Biden in early January to disrupt the Houthis’ ability to carry out their attacks. 

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