According to Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, the UK has no interest in taking part in any wider conflict in Yemen.
This came as he spoke with a news agency concerning last week’s US-led strikes against Houthi forces, which were aimed at stopping Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.
Shapps stressed that the aims of the military operation were always limited.
He asserted that the UK has always been clear with its intention not to go into Yemen “or anything like that, but simply to send a very clear and, I hope, unambiguous message to the Iranian-backed Houthis that their behaviour in the Red Sea was completely unacceptable.”
When asked if further strikes were possible, Shapps remarked that guaranteeing that freedom of navigation is incredibly important.
“So we’ve said that this is a discrete action,” he said, adding, “Of course, if the Houthis don’t stop we have to look at this again.”
Also, the British Defence Secretary disclosed that the UK will “wait and see” before deciding to launch fresh military strikes against the Iran-aligned Houthis in order to protect international shipping.
“Let’s wait and see what happens, because it’s not that we want to be involved in action in the Red Sea,” he stated.
“But ultimately freedom of navigation is an international right,” Shapps added.
UK Prime Minister To Address MPs About Strikes On Houthis In Yemen
Moreover, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is scheduled to address members of the UK parliament on Monday, January 15, 2024, for the first time since the UK and US carried out strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.
Sunak authorized the missile attacks without consulting parliament.
It was the first time Sunak agreed to military action since becoming Prime Minister in October 2022.
UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, said on Sunday that “operational security” made it necessary to proceed without a vote.
Shapps, the Defence Secretary, told a news agency that briefing parliament before the strikes would not have been practical.
“One of the issues with having a sort of full debate about those things upfront is it would have provided perhaps too much information in detail to the Houthis so we needed to act, ” Shapps said.
Former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn said that it was “utterly disgraceful that parliament has not even been consulted.”
After the strikes, Sunak said the Houthis had been “risking lives at sea” and were “causing major disruption to a vital trade route.”
He also called the strikes “limited” but “necessary” to protect commercial shipping and lives.
The Houthis have said they are targeting ships linked to Israel in the Red Sea despite some having no clear connection.
It has meant shipping companies diverting vessels via a longer route around southern Africa.
While the Houthis have said their attacks on shipping are simply aimed at Israel following its war on Gaza, Shapps dismissed this idea.
“I know the Houthis are saying that it’s somehow connected, but actually, 50 different nations have had their ships attacked, so it quite clearly isn’t actually connected,” he said.