Blinken warns ‘there will be consequences’ for continued Houthi attacks | CNN Politics

Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media as he departs for Tel Aviv, during his week-long trip aimed at calming tensions across the Middle East, in Manama, Bahrain, on January 10.



CNN
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Wednesday that “there will be consequences” for the continued Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

“I’m not going to telegraph or preview anything that that might happen,” Blinken said in a press gaggle in Bahrain. “We’ve made clear, we’ve been clear with more than 20 other countries that if it continues, as it did yesterday, there will be consequences.”

Blinken’s warning comes as the Yemen based Iranian-backed militant group shows no signs of de-escalation and the potential for regional flare-up looms large.

On Tuesday, the US Navy shot down 21 Houthi missiles and drones launched from Yemen, according to a statement from US Central Command, in one of the largest Houthi attacks to take place in the Red Sea in recent months.

There were no ships damaged in the attacks and no injuries as a result of the massive drone and missile launch, CENTCOM said.

The Houthis have recently carried out scores of attacks and seized a commercial vessel and its crew in what they claim is retaliation for the Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza. The attacks have already had consequences for the global economy as they have effectively closed one of the world’s main trade routes to most container ships.

There have been multiple signals in recent weeks that the US is considering taking more forceful military action to come in response to the Houthi attacks, even amid efforts to backchannel with Iran and the Houthis to urge them to de-escalate.

A senior US official told CNN that they continue to speak with all parties to stress the gravity of the situation. They are also emphasizing that the Houthis’ actions are not helping the Palestinian people or the people of Yemen; instead, they threaten to turn Yemen into a “pariah state.”

Blinken said Wednesday that, amid the efforts to prevent a regional conflict from spreading, it is “particularly important that we respond when we see something like the aggression coming from the Houthis.”

“This represents a clear threat to the interests of countries around the world. And it’s important that the international community come together and respond to them,” he said.

On Wednesday, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps warned “we will take the action needed to protect innocent lives and the global economy.”

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US would “continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners about the appropriate next steps.”

“I certainly won’t speculate about any potential future military operations one way or the other,” he added.

The US is “considering all options” as they seek to build as much international consensus as possible on the need for the Houthis to stop, a Western official told CNN.

Last week, the US and 12 other countries released a joint statement condemning the attacks on shipping. A senior US administration official indicated that the statement was likely the coalition’s last warning.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday passed a US- and Japan-led resolution condemning “in the strongest terms the at least two dozen Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels since November 19, 2023” and demanding “that the Houthis immediately cease all such attacks.” 11 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Four abstained, including China and Russia. A Western diplomat told CNN that the US accommodated some of China’s requests on the language of the resolution.

The text of the resolution, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, does not mention Iran for its backing of the Houthis. However, in a statement applauding the passage of the resolution, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned Tehran.

“While this resolution calls out the clear violations of international law, we must not overlook the root of the problem. Iran has long encouraged the Houthi’s destabilizing actions in the region through both financial and materiel support that violates the UN arms embargo,” she said. “We know that Iran has been deeply involved in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.”

“The United States does not seek a confrontation with Iran. However, Iran also has a choice: to continue providing or withhold its support for the Houthis, without which the Houthis would struggle to effectively track and strike vessels navigating shipping lanes through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” she said.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Kevin Liptak contributed reporting.



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