GENERICO.ruPoliticsA second front has opened against Israel in Yemen: the Houthis are shelling

A second front has opened against Israel in Yemen: the Houthis are shelling

Missiles intercepted by Americans and Saudis: a new escalation is brewing

A new force has joined the participants in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Shiite Houthi rebels operating in Yemen, far from the Holy Land, are trying to fire missiles at Israel .

Missiles intercepted by Americans and Saudis: a new escalation is brewing

Back on October 19, the Americans shot down four missiles and several drones fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is reported to have intercepted a fifth missile. US officials said the missiles and drones were heading north, possibly towards Israel.

And the other day, on October 27, a building in the Egyptian resort of Taba was apparently damaged by a stray drone or Houthi missile.

The Houthi rebels, considered a powerful military force in Yemen, risk dragging themselves and their already strife-ravaged country into another escalation loop that will lead to renewed fighting on Yemeni soil. Although the Houthis have missiles and armed drones that can reach Israel, it is doubtful that any of their missiles will evade Israeli air defenses.

The Houthis' latest anti-Israeli actions will not have any impact on Israel's war with Hamas, but may provoke retaliatory strikes from the United States and its allies. It is likely that the Houthis will respond to any airstrikes with a further escalation of missile and drone launches, which could well be aimed at Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Houthis have previously successfully struck targets deep inside both Arab countries, including vital energy infrastructure.

Recall that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE became involved in the civil war in Yemen, playing a major role in the armed intervention to this country in the south of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite faction, are allied with Iran and are believed to receive material and technical support from Tehran. However, unlike Lebanon's Hezbollah, Iran has less control over the Houthis' decision-making. As American experts admit (in particular, Michael Horton in his publication in the publication Responsible Statecraft), it is quite possible that Tehran did not know in advance about the Houthis’ decision to launch missiles towards Israel.

The same analysts link the decision The Houthis' launch of missiles and drones in the direction of Israel is primarily motivated by internal problems of the group, which faces growing discontent among the 80% of Yemen's 32 million population under its control.

The Houthis are well aware of how missile launches towards Israel, at least in the short term, would be perceived by many Yemenis. Anti-Israel sentiment in Yemen, as in many other countries in the Muslim world, is high and growing. The Houthis' attempt to strike Israel may be favorably received by many compatriots. Moreover, the Houthi slogan reads: “Death to America, death to Israel, curse to the Jews.”

But the Houthis are probably shooting themselves in the foot. Prior to the latest developments in Gaza, the Houthis and Saudi Arabia had made significant progress in their bilateral negotiations with each other, aided by Iran in pressuring the Houthis to fully engage with the Saudis. The Saudi government admits there is no viable military solution to Houthi control of northwestern Yemen.

Now, following the Houthis' missile launch and the group's threats to attack ships transiting the Red Sea, negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis are likely to be suspended indefinitely. If the Houthi attacks continue – and it is likely that they will – the prospect of any agreement between Riyadh and the Houthis will dim even further.

In an ominous sign, analysts warn, the October 24 incident when the Houthis , allegedly attacked a Saudi military post near Jabal al-Dauda, ​​killing four Saudi soldiers. This followed a September 25 Houthi drone attack on Bahraini soldiers serving on the Saudi-Yemeni border, killing four soldiers.

Despite the ceasefire expiring in April 2022, Yemen's warring sides have avoided a renewal large-scale hostilities due to the fragile balance of power between rivals. The Houthis' actions, and the response they can reasonably expect from the United States and its allies, will upset this balance of power.

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