Yemen's Houthis prepare for retaliatory attacks after rejecting US incentives

Group warns against any attempt to undermine its rule

What is thought to be the French Navy's FS Jacques Chevalier heads towards the Bab Al Mandeb in Tadjoura, Djibouti. Getty Images
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Yemen’s Houthi rebels said on Wednesday they are bracing for retaliatory action by the UK and the US after rejecting what America called incentives to stop their Red Sea attacks.

The group's political council also warned against any attempt to undermine order in the regions they control, the Houthi-run news agency Saba said in a statement.

The message came after The National on Tuesday quoted Yemeni political sources as saying the Houthis have dismissed incentives proposed by the US to curb their attacks in the Red Sea.

These incentives included the end of blockades on Sanaa and Hodeidah and speeding up peace talks, sources told The National.

The Houthi council stressed in its statement "the importance of maintaining the solidity of the Yemeni internal front in the face of American and British conspiracies", adding that it was preparing to counter "any hostile American escalation against the security and stability of Yemen".

“The repercussions of any escalation will not stop at the borders of Yemen," said the statement.

The US military announced on Wednesday its forces successfully engaged and destroyed an unmanned surface vessel in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The vessel "presented an imminent threat to US, coalition forces, and merchant vessels in the region", the US Central Command said.

Since the outbreak of Israel's war in Gaza in October, the Yemeni rebels, who control the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and territories in the north and west, launched dozens of attacks on international shipping in the strategic waters off Yemen.

In their statement, the Iran-backed militia called for unity and warned against any attempt to destabilise their authority.

"The council stressed that the authorities should take firm action against everyone involved in destabilising the internal front," the statement added.

The attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea have disrupted global shipping, forcing companies to reroute to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa.

This emergence as an unexpected threat to Israel and a strategic shipping route prompted retaliatory strikes by the US and Britain since February.

Following the 2014 civil war, the Houthis overthrew Yemen's internationally recognised government.

During the last week, the Houthis have conducted at least four attacks on ships and US military targets in the Red Sea following a two-week pause.

The Houthis believe the strikes on the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab Al Mandeb are aimed at stopping Israel's war in the Gaza Strip.

The war began after Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 others hostage. Israel has retaliated by conducting a brutal military operation in Gaza, killing more than 34,000 Palestinians.

Updated: May 01, 2024, 8:55 AM