The transnational mainstream media have planted the narrative that Ansarallah act under the influence of the Iranian government. While neither Iran nor Ansarallah has denied being part of an axis of resistance against imperialism, colonialism, and Zionism, an axis that also incorporates political forces from Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, and Palestine itself, simplifying the equation to a relationship of “subordination” is both superficial and banal, given the Yemeni people’s own history of struggle.
In West Asia, the growing aggressiveness of “Israel” and the interventionist presence of the United States have been polarizing the political situation. Iran’s recent agreement to settle differences with Saudi Arabia, as well as other agreements that have brought Egypt and Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, among others, closer together after years of estrangement, in addition to the stagnation of the war in Yemen—all point to the weakening of the imperialist-Zionist pole and the strengthening of the resistance.
In this context, by history and geographical location, the role of Yemen and the Ansarallah movement is decisive. It is worth noting that Ansarallah has never hidden its relationship with Iran. They are united by their common belonging to the Shiite branch of Islam. Both the founder of the Ansarallah movement and his brother, who leads it now, spent part of their lives in Qom (Iran), training politically and ideologically while studying the Shiite current, based on the idea that the legitimate succession of Mohammed belongs to the descendants of his son-in-law Ali, as opposed to the Sunnis who believe that the successors of Mohammed should be the companions of the prophet. Sunni comes from “Ahl al-Sunna,” which translates as “the people of tradition,” and Shia comes from “Shiat Ali,” which means “the party of Ali.”
But this does not mean that Yemenis are mere “accessories” of Iran. Beyond the financial, military, communications, and political support it has received from Tehran, the Ansarallah movement has demonstrated autonomy and self-determination in the design and execution of its actions both in the war against Saudi Arabia and its allies since 2015 and now in supporting the Palestinian cause.
In addition to its aid to Palestine, Yemen has a direct conflict with Israel for the support that the Zionist entity gave to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during the war of 2015 that allowed it to occupy the strategic Yemeni islands of Socotra, located in the Arabian Sea, about 350 kilometers south of Yemen’s coasts. In Socotra, the entity has established a series of spy bases for gathering information throughout the region, and in particular in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
The UAE-Israel base in Socotra also benefits the United States because through this base the U.S. controls the Gwadar port in Pakistan which is also part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Gwadar port was developed by China so that goods unloaded there could be shipped overland to China, especially to its western region.
As for the current events, Yemen’s actions in support of Palestine began almost immediately after October 7. On October 19, a U.S. Navy ship shot down missiles and drones fired by Ansarallah against Israel, according to Pentagon information released at the time.
A few days later, on October 27, six people were injured when two drones fell in Taba, an Egyptian town bordering Israel, after being intercepted by the Israeli air force. On October 31, Ansarallah claimed a drone strike against the Zionist entity. The “Israeli” army reported intercepting a missile launched from the south.
Ansarallah military spokesperson General Yahiya Sa’ari announced in a televised statement that the organization had launched a large number of ballistic missiles and drones toward “Israel” and that there would be more attacks in the future “to help the Palestinians achieve victory.” In response, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that the Ansarallah attacks were intolerable but declined to elaborate when asked how “Israel” would respond.
In mid-November, Ansarallah announced that its armed forces would attack all ships sailing under the Israeli flag or operated or owned by Israeli companies or sailing to Israeli ports. A few days later, General Sa’ari announced that the Yemeni armed forces would prevent ships of all nationalities bound for Israeli ports from sailing in the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea until the food and medicine needed by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were allowed to enter the war-devastated enclave.
In view of this announcement and following the first attacks on ships bound for Israel, four major shipping companies: the world’s largest container line, Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), Denmark’s Maersk, France’s CMA CGM, and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd suspended the passage of their vessels through the Red Sea. These companies transport approximately 53% of the world’s maritime containers and about 12% of world trade in terms of volume. It should be noted that 30% of the world’s container traffic passes through Bab al-Mandeb.
In response, on December 19, the United States proposed to create a naval alliance in order to launch an operation called “Prosperity Guardian,” presumably dedicated to “ensuring freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.” In practice, this meant declaring war on Yemen and militarizing the Red Sea. But Yemen has remained unbowed in its position. Its armed forces have asserted that “any attack on Yemeni assets or Yemen’s missile launching bases would stain the entire Red Sea with blood,” claiming that they possess “weapons to sink your aircraft carriers and destroyers.”
The escalation of actions since then has been evident. On December 20, the leader of Ansarallah, Sayyed Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, emphasized in a speech that the responsibility of the Islamic world, and especially the Arab world, for the conflict in Palestine, was great, for being “the heart of that world.” In this regard, he deplored the Islamic-Arab position in the summits held to discuss the issue, especially the one held in Saudi Arabia. Al-Houthi characterized that view as weak. He noted that there should be a commitment by the Arab and Muslim peoples to support Palestine and criticized the focus of some countries on the “conspiracy against Palestine.” The Yemeni leader said that his nation did not expect from the United States and European countries a positive position or role towards Palestine. For these reasons, he considered that the perspective of the axis of resistance should be aimed at raising the level of military support for Palestine.
In this framework, Al-Houthi warned that Ansarallah would attack U.S. warships if Yemeni forces were attacked by Washington after the launching of Operation Prosperity Guardian. According to Al-Houthi, the U.S. is not trying to protect world shipping but is seeking to militarize the sea.
However, the United States could not reach a consensus with its “allies” about the naval alliance. Disagreements were generated with the Arab countries that were called to join the coalition, which has hindered a coherent response to the Yemeni attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea. Two key regional countries involved in the long-running U.S. war against Yemen—the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—expressed opposition, which has been a major obstacle to the U.S. plan to end the maritime attacks. The final course of action considered by Washington is a military response to Ansarallah, but some Arab allies have refused to join. Instead, they prefer the diplomatic route and the reinforcement of maritime protection for ships.
Analysts consulted on the matter agree that the objectives of the proposed U.S. operation are vague as the naval chiefs have not been given precise missions. Moreover, the coalition ships, although equipped with advanced weaponry, can only limit themselves to repel missile attacks, escorting merchant ships with warships, which is questionable since Yemen’s missile arsenal is inexhaustible in light of the actions undertaken in the last eight years. “Neither the management of the world shipping companies, nor the captains of merchant ships, nor the insurers will be willing to play this lottery,” stressed Ilya Kramnik, a Russian expert on naval forces.
Similarly, Michael Horton, co-founder of Red Sea Analytics International, an independent consulting firm dedicated to providing unbiased analysis of security dynamics in the Red Sea, noted that Ansarallah “has only deployed a fraction of its weapons and has not used longer-range missiles more advanced drones, and hard-to-detect sea mines.”
In this situation, U.S. Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan noted that “the United States has also been accepting as normal the persistent attacks… by the Houthis.” According to the New York Times, this has forced President Biden to face a difficult choice related to future deterrence plans for Ansarallah. He must consider that Saudi Arabia is not seeking an escalation of the conflict that could scuttle a hard-negotiated truce. Tim Lenderking, U.S. special envoy for Yemen, stated in mid-December that “everyone is looking for a formula to reduce tensions.”
On the other side of the conflict, on December 24, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major General Hossein Salami, announced that Israel would face a total naval blockade if the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, and other waterways were closed. To date, Yemen has already been able to blockade almost in its entirety the Israeli port of Eilat, located on the Red Sea, which is operating at only 15% of its capacity. Ansarallah armed forces were also able to hit an Israeli ship deep in the Arabian Sea, near India, at a great distance from Yemeni territory. Meanwhile, Iran has drones and long-range hypersonic missiles, which, in the event of an all-out war against Zionism, could easily target commercial ships moving through the Mediterranean towards Israeli ports.
Moreover, in preparation for a combat of other dimensions against Israel, the Yemeni armed forces announced that it has 20,000 reservist soldiers trained and ready to fight alongside the country’s armed forces against the Zionist entity and the coalition led by the United States.
On December 28, Yemen warned the United States and its partners about the militarization of the Red Sea and stated that it would intensify its attacks against its enemies if the blockade of Gaza continued. In this context, a day earlier, the top commanders of the Yemeni Armed Forces met to discuss the latest regional developments and review the combat readiness of the troops. At the end of the meeting, they expressed their readiness to carry out the orders of the Ansarallah leader. On January 4, after a Yemeni naval contingent came face-to-face with U.S. military forces in the Red Sea, in which the Yemeni side lost three boats and 10 fighters, the commander of the Yemeni Coastal Defense Forces, Major General Muhammad Al-Qadiri warned that Yemen would respond by determining the target in each case on the islands, in the Red Sea, and at “the bases where the Zionists and the Americans are stationed.”
If the U.S. and its alliance eventually decide to directly challenge Ansarallah in the Red Sea, they will face a vast naval war from the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean. It would unleash an unstoppable spiral of confrontations of incalculable dimensions.
In any case, Yemen has already been able to use its strategic position as a force in the global scenario and to impose itself as an important player in the ongoing confrontation and to express one of the most courageous forms of support for the Palestinian people facing the Israeli war machine supported by the United States and Great Britain, constituting an important pressure card against Zionism and its U.S. mentor.
Controlling the Suez Canal means controlling 90% of global trade, directly affecting Israel by hitting its economy. In this sense, Ansarallah has been able to do what Israel and the United States have tried to avoid at all costs until now: “to turn the genocide in Gaza into a global crisis.”
Lebanese journalist Khalil Harb, citing the World Bank, stated in an article for The Cradle that Israel imports and exports almost 99% of its goods by river and sea, and more than half of its GDP depends on trade in goods.
Brazilian journalist specialized in international politics, Eduardo Vasco, pointed out that in addition to the direct impact that the Ansarallah movement is causing in West Asia, its actions are “paralyzing the world economy, that is to say, the very functioning of the capitalist regime, which is at the root of the war of aggression in the Middle East.” Vasco is of the opinion that the United States and Israel are limited in carrying out a direct attack on Yemen because there could be retaliation against U.S. allies in the region, “mainly against their oil fields, which would brutally aggravate the economic crisis with an oil crisis, which has already begun. For this reason, while the UAE wants strong action against Ansarallah, the Saudis are cautious.”
At the close of this article came the information that Yemen had attacked a U.S. ship carrying supplies to Israel, thus responding to the recent U.S. attacks against Yemeni naval forces.
Moreover, responding to the statements of U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Yemen’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Al-Ezzi confirmed “the safety of navigation to all destinations except the ports of occupied Palestine,” categorically discarding the fake news disseminated by Washington, London, and Berlin regarding the safety of navigation.
All these actions show the capacity and determination of the Yemeni people to take a leading role against Israel’s war on Palestine. In fact, they make it clear that, despite being a small country, globally and regionally marginalized from economic development, they have a will to fight that expresses the millenary sentiment of existing as an independent nation, challenging the U.S. by putting obstacles and impediments to the imperial execution of its policies in the region.
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