STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT. 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.