OpinionsEcon 101The Houthies

The Houthies

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Following the outbreak of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, the Houthis began to fire missiles at Israel, and attack ships off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea, which they say is in solidarity with the Palestinians, and aiming to facilitate entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

In order to end the attacks in the Red Sea, the Houthis demanded a ceasefire in Gaza, and an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Sometime in  Feb. 3, the United States and the United Kingdom conducted airstrikes against multiple Houthi targets in Yemen, in retaliation to the death of three American soldiers who were then stationed in Jordan.

The Houthi movement,  officially known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), is a Shia Islamist political and military organization that emerged from Yemen in the 1990s. In 2003, influenced by the Lebanese Shia political and military organization Hezbollah, the Houthis adopted official slogans against the United States (Death to America),  against Israel (Free Palestine), and against the Jews (Death to the Jews).

Earlier In January 2021, the United States had designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization.

According to researcher Bernard Haykel, the movement’s founder Hussein al-Houthi was influenced by a variety of different religious traditions and political ideologies, with two central religious-ideological tenets. The first is the Quranic Way which encompasses the belief that the Quran does not allow for interpretation and contains everything needed to improve Muslim society.

The second is the belief in the absolute divine right of Ahl al-Bayt (Prophet’s descendants) to rule, a belief attributed to Jaroudism, a fundamentalist offshoot of Zaydism.

According to Iranian officials who spoke to Reuters, Iranian personnel are in Yemen working  with Hezbollah militants, directing, and overseeing Houthi attacks on commercial shipping, providing advanced drones, anti-ship cruise missiles, precision-strike ballistic missiles, and medium-range missiles to the Houthis, since the outbreak of the Israel–Hamas war.

From then on, there had been many attacks on commercial shipping vessels on the Red Sea,  like the Liberian-flagged MV Central Park, an oil tanker managed by Zodiac Maritime that was seized in November 2023 off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden. It was carrying a full cargo of phosphoric acid with 22 crew members consisting of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals who were held hostage.

A Houthi spokesperson said the ships were targeted in response to “American-British aggression against our country”,   alleging  that the ships  had ties to Israel.

Houthi attacks have impacted shipping into Israel and local trade, commercial ships coming to Israel from Asia, as well as other commercial ships that have to go around Africa, delaying the journey to at least three weeks more, increasing the expenses  and insurance costs.

Will Israel  agree to a ceasefire in Gaza, and an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip?

Most analysts believe that the threat of escalation of the war in the Middle East and its economic costs worldwide should pressure both sides to find a workable compromise.

Let us pray for genuine lasting Peace!

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Author’s email: [email protected]

 

 

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