Feeble Action by US, European Nations Against Houthi Rebels Frustrates Israel

By Arie Egozi

Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: Israel is frustrated from the “very faint” action being taken the US and European countries against the repeated attacks made by the Houthi rebels in Yemen targeting international shipping in the Red Sea.

“The US alone can erase the Houthi military force in one day, but again Washington is underestimating the evolving threat projecting on Iran’s plan which is inches from a nuclear bomb,” an Israeli source said

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According to a report in the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMERI), as per Pentagon figures on February 18, 2024, since November the Houthis had attacked at least 45 ships in the Red Sea, as well as launched missiles and drones at Israel. The US Navy has shot down nearly 100 Houthi drones and missiles, with its ships engaging in combat in a way they haven’t since World War II. The world’s major container ship companies are all now going around the Cape of Good Hope, with an additional month of travel time and a million more dollars in fuel costs – posing, according to US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a risk to the global economy.

“The Biden administration named the Houthis a specially designated terrorist group on January 17, taking effect February 16. This long-overdue move comes three years to the day after President Biden delisted the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation, when the UN and aid groups said that the designation could hamper humanitarian assistance to Yemen. The UN has expressed similar apprehensions about this new designation as well.”

The Israeli source added that the US and Europe still do not understand the full meaning of the Houthis aggression. They measure the level of reaction to their military actions and without any doubt are encouraged to keep it and escalate it. The West, again is not reading the map.

According to the MEMERI report, the Houthi political bureau’s near-daily statements and media releases, and the organisation’s many military parades, aim to show that the group is a strong military force in the region. The missiles and drones it showcased in a massive September military parade, with ranges of 400 to 1,900 kilometres, are derivatives and variants of Iranian weaponry. Their most recent “armed popular show of force” – a massive parade on December 20 – was intended “to send a message of readiness and preparedness to confront the forces of hegemony and arrogance” – i.e. the US and its allies in the region.

According  to the report, the Biden administration’s January 2024 designation of the Houthi movement as a specially designated global terrorist – after it formally delisted it as a foreign terrorist organisation and specially designated global terrorist soon after taking power in January 2021 – is a good step. Another positive development is the European Union’s mission to protect ships in the Red Sea from the Houthis. Additionally, the State Department emphasised that “we and our partners will continue to take appropriate action, as needed, to protect freedom of navigation and commercial shipping from Houthi attacks.”

“But the impact of these moves on the Houthis’ attacks on Red Sea shipping, together with the US Navy’s operations, appears limited so far, as they continue to carry out significant military operations against sea vessels and US drones,” the report mentions.

In light of the Houthis’ call in mid-January to expand the regional conflict against the US, and its warning that Europe would be their primary victim, a stronger military response might be needed to stop their attacks.