Fact Check: Biden Did NOT Announce US Forces Withdrawal After Yemen Attack Destroys US Naval Fleet In Red Sea

Fact Check

  • by: Rebaz Majeed
Fact Check: Biden Did NOT Announce US Forces Withdrawal After Yemen Attack Destroys US Naval Fleet In Red Sea 2021 Video

Does a video show President Joe Biden announcing the withdrawal of U.S. forces and support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Yemeni forces destroyed a U.S. naval fleet in the Red Sea? No, that's not true: The video is from a Biden news conference in 2021 and has nothing to do with current events in the region. There is no evidence that Yemeni Houthi forces destroyed or damaged U.S. Navy ships or facilities in the region, nor has the U.S. withdrawn military forces from the Red Sea or the region as of early December 2023.

The claim appeared in a video on TikTok no longer available that's archived here from @user7229679842954 on November 15, 2023, with captions (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff) that read:

Breaking: President Joe Biden decides to withdraw from the war after Yemeni forces destroyed a Marine fleet in the Red Sea. God is the greatest, and praise be to God.

An additional caption supposedly from Biden (as translated) reads:

I was unaware that Yemen would engage in the conflict and support Palestine. Netanyahu must address this situation. The Yemenis lack reason; they targeted and destroyed my naval fleet in the Red Sea. This no longer concerns me. I will withdraw the naval fleet and avoid jeopardizing my army. The Yemenis strike indiscriminately, showing no regard for anything. However, we care about the lives of our soldiers, and I will withdraw my support from Netanyahu.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-07 at 10.32.06.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Dec 7 09:31:17 2023 UTC)

The claim was widely shared following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, such as here, here and here.

The actual statement made by Biden in the video is:

I'm not confident, where the hell--what do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? What I said was--let's get it straight--I said what will change their behaviour is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world. I'm not confident of anything, I'm just stating the facts.

A Google search (archived here) using the keywords "Joe Biden" and "When did I say I was confident?" found the original video (archived here) published on YouTube by C-SPAN on June 16, 2021, titled "President Biden exchange with reporter on Russian President Putin."

In the complete video (archived here) of the news conference, released by C-SPAN, Biden provides a summary of topics he discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Geneva.

Lead Stories conducted a Google News search (archived here) of the keywords "Yemen forces destroy US Marine fleet and red sea." The results did not uncover any reports among the thousands of credible news sources that confirmed the claim that Yemeni forces destroyed a U.S. Marine fleet in the Red Sea after the Hamas-Israel conflict began.

A report (archived here) by the U.S. Department of Defense on October 19, 2023, stated that the USS Carney intercepted three land attack cruise missiles and several drones launched by Houthi forces in Yemen. In the report, titled "DOD Responds to Attacks, Continues Efforts to Deter Spread of Israel-Hamas war," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryeder stated:

We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched heading north along the Red Sea potentially towards targets in Israel.

The report indicated no casualties, and there was no mention of any ships being destroyed.

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  Rebaz Majeed

Rebaz Majeed is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. He is a multilingual freelance journalist and researcher. He worked for five years as a reporter for Voice of America (VOANews) in Iraq. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East at Free Berlin University. Rebaz brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his role at LeadStories.

Read more about or contact Rebaz Majeed

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