Red Sea conflict gives wings to Houthis and threatens peace in Yemen

After almost a decade of war in Yemen, the Houthi rebels have found a source of legitimacy in the confrontation with the United States in the Red Sea and the unconditional support of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who, at the same time, see their ties weakening. Have been. .Options to achieve peace in the country.

The rebels, who have taken control of much of the country’s west since 2014, “welcomed” the open confrontation with the United States, which has bombed dozens of military targets in Yemen over the past three days, killing at least five. People have died. Of the rebels.

Although Washington has assured that it does not seek war but that it will respond strongly to threats to shipping in the Red Sea, the Houthis have insisted that they are willing to harm Israel economically and trade in support of the Palestinians in the area. Will continue to attack shipping. strip.

own interest

Backed by Iran, they are staunch defenders of the Palestinian cause, although the crisis in the Red Sea also serves their own propaganda interests to recruit more fighters and make them feel that they matter in the regional arena.

“For them it is legitimacy, popularity and presence regionally and internationally,” said Fariya al-Muslimi, a Yemeni analyst at Chatham House. “They are able to promote themselves as regional or international actors, at least to international interests.” Can disrupt.” , told EFE…

“I think the Houthis will not retreat; in fact, they will advance. In a way, they expect and desire a direct confrontation with the United States or the West,” says the expert, who was not involved in the study. Warns about the possibility. The rebels will begin attacking “Western economic and oil infrastructure”, as well as US and UK military bases in the Middle East.

no punishment

The rebels themselves have declared that the bombing against Yemen “will not go unpunished” and have promised to respond with greater force, despite the fact that Washington and London have assured that the military capabilities of the Houthis will be strengthened after the bombing. Have been affected.

Nearly a decade of war in Yemen has already tested the resistance of the Houthis, who have increased their arsenal with the help of Iran despite airstrikes from the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, which intervened in the country since 2015. Is. Internationally recognized Yemeni government.

“It’s not going to be good for anybody,” says al-Muslimi. “We’re at a time when the Houthis think they can be maximalists, they can play a zero-sum game, but they don’t care about the cost. Is.”

Another burden on peace in Yemen

The Houthis and the Saudi-backed government reached an unprecedented ceasefire in April 2022, although it expired a few months later, but it has largely held since then and has managed to prevent large-scale attacks.

Despite being a belligerent party, Saudi Arabia has become a mediator and made several concessions to ease tensions, stop cross-border attacks by the Houthis against its territory, and lay the foundation for starting a peace process.

But the war in the Gaza Strip and its consequences have changed everything: the UN envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, warned on Saturday, calling for “protecting the progress of peace efforts” after the bombing. Americans and British.

“This will definitely ruin the peace process in Yemen,” says the expert, recalling the Red Sea crisis that led to possible negotiations on the exchange of prisoners and the establishment of a roadmap to end the war. It is already too late to do so.

Furthermore, analysts point out that it could break the agreement with Saudi Arabia – which was negotiating the normalization of relations with Israel before the war in Gaza began – and undermine the Jewish state’s “defense of first aid” by interception. Row” has had missiles launched into its airspace by the Houthis in the past days.

The military increase in the Red Sea has raised fears that a regional conflict is imminent, but it also keeps residents of Yemen in suspense, which has become the scene of the largest humanitarian catastrophe on the planet after nearly a decade of war . , according to the United Nations.

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