The US and Israel face a powerful new enemy in the Middle East — RT World News


Washington’s attempt to put together a coalition against the Houthis is attracting almost none of the regional powers

In yet another case of blowback, reflecting the failure of Western military interventionism in West Asia, Yemen’s Ansarallah (Houthi) movement has inserted itself as an active participant in the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza. First launching batches of loitering munitions, ballistic and cruise missiles towards Israel, Ansarallah then moved on to prevent the passage of Israeli-owned or operated ships through the Red Sea, before announcing a complete closure of the shipping route for any vessels destined to dock at the port of Eilat.

After the Houthis seized a number of ships, while attacking others with drone strikes, activity at Eilat has dropped some 85%. International and Israeli shipping companies have opted to take the long route, which in some cases takes an additional 12 days, to reach Israel with their cargo, a costly diversion to say the least. In opposition to this, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to the region and announced the formation of a multinational naval task force to be deployed in the Red Sea. Despite talk of the coalition including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and even the United Arab Emirates, the only Arab nation that joined was Bahrain.

So, without a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to back them up, usually required to make the militarisation of a territory legal under international law, the US has launched yet another foreign intervention. This one is significant because it failed to convince any major regional players to join, demonstrating the decline in American influence, but has also elevated the status of Yemen’s Ansarallah.

Under former US President Barack Obama, Washington backed the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen back in 2015. Since then, some 377,000 people have died, largely as a result of the deadly blockade imposed on the majority of the country’s population, while some 15,000 civilians have died due to direct conflict. The objective of the Saudi-led intervention, which received the backing of the US and UK, was to remove Ansarallah from power in the nation’s capital, Sanaa. Although the group does not enjoy international recognition as Yemen’s governing force, it rules over more than 80% of the population, has the support of two-thirds of the nation’s armed forces, and operates a government out of Sanaa.

Ansarallah came to power following a popular revolution against then-Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in 2014. Months later, Hadi resigned and fled the country after Ansarallah militants had decided to take over by force. In the midst of a seven-year war, the political, social and armed movement that is often referred to as “the Houthi rebels” operates as the de facto government of Yemen, but is yet to receive recognition at the UN, which instead recognises the ‘Presidential Leadership Council’ that was created in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2022.

The context above is crucial for understanding the capabilities of Yemen’s Ansarallah, which was downplayed as a band of “Iran-backed rebels” in Western corporate media for years. While the governments of the collective West have tried to pretend that the Yemeni group is insignificant, Washington’s recent decision to form a multi-national naval coalition to confront the Houthis is an admission that they are a major regional actor. In fact, Ansarallah is the only Arab movement that controls state assets and a standing army that is participating in the ongoing war with Israel.

The reality that the US is now confronting is something that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE came to realize early last year. Following two separate drone and missile attacks on Abu Dhabi and Dubai in January of 2022, it became apparent that the West’s current level of support could not provide sufficient security for the UAE. Up until a nationwide ceasefire was brokered in April 2022, Ansarallah had also demonstrated its developed missile and drone capabilities, striking valuable economic targets inside Saudi Arabia too.

Despite receiving a lot less attention than it deserved, Ansarallah forces strategically timed their second attack on the UAE to coincide with the arrival of Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the country. This was a clear message to the Emirati and Saudi leaderships that Western support will not provide sufficient security. It’s likely because of this threat from Yemen that Riyadh sought a security pact with the US, in order to make a normalization agreement with Israel possible. Such a security pact would have stipulated that an attack on one is an attack on all, hence dragging the Americans into a direct war against Yemen in the event that the conflict was to flare up again.

The US attempted to help topple the current government in Sanaa, but ended up creating a battle-hardened group that has domestically developed capabilities well beyond those it possessed at the start of the conflict in 2015. In his first foreign policy address after taking office in 2021, US President Joe Biden pledged to end the war in Yemen. However, instead of pursuing a Yemen-Saudi deal, the White House abandoned its pledge and sought to broker a Saudi-Israeli deal instead. That fatal decision is coming back to bite policymakers in Washington.

Backing the Israelis to the hilt in their war on Gaza, spelling out that there are no red lines as to how far the government of Benjamin Netanyahu can go, the US has allowed a Palestine-Israel war to expand into a broader regional Arab-Israeli conflict. The threat of escalation between the Israeli army and Lebanese Hezbollah is growing by the day, while Ansarallah leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi has stated that his forces “will not stand idly by if the Americans have a tendency to escalate and commit foolishness by targeting our country.”

By every metric, US diplomatic stock has dropped internationally as a result of its handling of Israel’s war on Gaza. It has failed to convince any major regional actors in West Asia to back its escalatory agenda, all of which are standing on the same side as Russia and China in calling for a ceasefire. The world sees the hypocrisy of Washington. For the sake of comparison, the death toll in Gaza today is said to have exceeded 23,000, the majority being women and children. Israel has killed this many people in just over two months, while in the first two years of the ISIS/Daesh insurgency in Iraq, the UN estimated that the terrorist group killed some 18,800 civilians. The total number of civilians killed by ISIS in Syria is set at just over 5,000.

The level of human suffering being inflicted in Gaza is without precedent, breaking records in modern history for the tonnage of explosives dropped on such a small territory, in addition to the highest number of journalists, medical workers, and children killed in a single conflict. In reaction, the US government has repeatedly blocked ceasefire resolutions at the UNSC, gives Israel unlimited support unconditionally, and now threatens to drag a coalition of Western nations into a war on Yemen. The solution here is very simple: Ansarallah has said the blockade on ships to Israel will end when the war on Gaza ends. Washington has the ability to stop the war, but refuses to do so, while its threats against Yemen will not work to achieve any result beyond further escalation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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