Yemen: Recent Attacks Against U.S. Naval Vessels in the Red Sea [October 21, 2016] [open pdf - 343KB]
"In recent weeks, the United States has been drawn deeper into the Yemen war, which has killed an estimated 10,000 people since it began in March 2015. In October 2016, military units allied with the Houthi movement and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh (Houthi-Saleh forces) reportedly launched anti-ship missiles at U.S. Navy vessels on patrol off the coast of Yemen. [...] The attacks against the U.S. ships marked the first time U.S. forces had come under direct fire in the near 20-month war. The attacks may have been triggered by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on October 8 that struck a funeral gathering of Houthi leaders in the capital Sana'a. [...] Such events in Yemen have elicited a multi-pronged Administration response. [...] For Congress, recent developments in Yemen may be interpreted in a variety of ways. Some lawmakers may see the hand of Iran, a supporter of the Houthis, in supplying coastal defense missiles to Houthi-Saleh forces (or even Iranian proxies active in Houthi-Saleh controlled areas), and therefore reiterate the need to counter Iran's regional meddling. Others may be concerned that the Saudi-led coalition is too often targeting civilians using U.S.-origin military platforms and ordnance, raising questions about U.S. support for the coalition's military campaign. Some Members may stress broader concerns over the Houthi-Saleh forces' targeting of U.S. warships and other international vessels and potential implications of those attacks on maritime security and commercial traffic in the strategic Bab al Mandab strait, a global chokepoint for seaborne shipping that sits astride the coast of Yemen."
CRS Insight, IN10599
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html