US Restraint Against Intensified Hostilities by Houthi Rebels Frustrates Israel

By Arie Egozi

Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: Israel is frustrated by the “foot dragging” of the US in response to the hostilities initiated by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. This Iran proxy is launching ballistic missiles to hit targets in Israel and attacks ships in the Red Sea.

“This is an Iran initiated act and Washington hesitates and lets this proxy to accelerate its hostile actions,” an Israeli defence source said. Adding the source said that by the US decision not to act, Iran understands that the West is weak and is not ready to respond.

The source pointed to the fact that Iran warned against the forming of an international force to defend the commercial shipping in the Red Sea. “They see the non-action of the US and are encouraged to make noises against any international effort to act against the Houthi hostilities,” the source said.

While all the missiles and armed drones launched by the Houthis were intercepted by Israel, the commercial shipping in the Red Sea has been severely disrupted.

Eldad Shavit, a senior researcher in the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in a paper says that the US administration must currently take decisions regarding its policy in face of the intensifying Houthi operations in Yemen. These include the disruption of international shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the continued attacks on American targets by pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria, including an attack on the US embassy in Baghdad. The administration has accused Iran directly of being responsible for the attacks carried out by its proxies. The Deputy National Security Advisor stated that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is involved in the planning, approval, and execution of the attacks.

“So far, the administration has exercised much restraint and made do with trying to thwart the attacks of the Houthis by using the US naval vessels in the area to intercept the missiles and UAVs launched by the Houthis, and has ordered a number of targeted attacks on militia targets, defined by the Pentagon as self-defence. The United States would like the main effort to focus on continuing the campaign to defeat Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and the administration does not want to be dragged into a war in the Gulf. To prove its seriousness and send a deterrent, the aircraft carrier Eisenhower and many other vessels are sailing in the Gulf region. The containment, however, has reportedly drawn criticism from officials in the US Defence Department who seek to intensify the American response.”

Shavit says that it seems that the realisation of the threat by the Houthis to block any ship in the Red Sea, whether Israeli or not, while ignoring the warnings by the United States, is expected to significantly increase the pressure on the administration to expand its military operations to prevent the Houthis from interfering with international sailing. “This includes the possibility of attacking targets in Yemen and thus also sending a message to Iran.”