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The Houthis are turning the tables on everyone

December 21, 2023 at 2:21 pm

Thousands of Houthi graduates who completed their military training, attend a military parade with their light and heavy weapons in Amran, Yemen on December 20, 2023 [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

The escalating attacks on ships in the Arabian Sea and the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait by the Houthi movement in Yemen pose a real threat to the Israeli, Western and American economies. The Red Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes for oil and gas. Most of the major shipping companies, such as the world’s largest container company, Italian and Swiss-owned Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Denmark-based Maersk, Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, and France’s CMA CGM have suspended their use of the Red Sea.

Due to the Houthi attacks, ships now have to go around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope, adding 4,000 nautical miles to the journey. This will result in the doubling of the shipping costs, to $4,000 per forty-foot container. According to experts, this change is due to the extra fuel cost of $1 million for each vessel going via the Cape instead of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

The Houthis are apparently applying an ethically justified approach built on the same logic used by the Israeli occupation state. Israel besieges the Gaza Strip and grants itself the right to do so. With this logic, the group grants itself the right to besiege Israel and links the opening of the strait to lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

This approach is seen as both justified and noble by many in the region.

As the attacks intensify and pose a real danger to maritime routes, causing many companies to fear using the Red Sea and raising the cost of insurance and transportation, the US has announced the formation of an international naval coalition intended to protect cargo vessels. Ironically, though, the US is the largest country to impose blockades on other states and use sanctions as a weapon.

READ: Houthis threaten to target US warships if they attack Yemen

While previous US presidents considered any foreign war as an opportunity to rally the American people behind them and give themselves an electoral boost, the situation under President Joe Biden is different. He is the main advocate of the war against Russia in Ukraine, which he is losing despite throwing billions of dollars into it. Engaging in an armed confrontation with the Houthis would be a resounding failure, since the group has little to lose and does not fear war. Indeed, it would gain more legitimacy as the only force in Yemen to be fighting imperialism. Moreover, its war with the Saudi-led Arab coalition, including the United Arab Emirates, has shown that it is resilient, and able to force the coalition to freeze combat missions after years of fighting.

The outbreak of another war in this region would mean serious long-term disruption and increased transportation costs, as well as rising fuel and energy costs for end users. This would have a major impact on Europe during the winter given the already suspended supplies of oil and gas from Russia. Crude oil prices are already creeping up.

The impact of a war would be challenging for Biden as well. The US president sees himself as the, not a, world leader, but he faces difficult choices. He is accused of corruption and faces domestic issues, as does his rival, former President Donald Trump. In addition, the existing wars and crises are having long-term negative impacts on Washington’s standing and international influence.

READ: Israel will not tolerate Houthi attacks, says Gallant

Despite this, it seems to be impossible for Americans to consider alternative, more intelligent means to approach problems instead of military “shock and awe”. The US and its protégé Israel have always tried to play the role of gods in international politics, where what they want becomes a reality regardless of international laws and conventions. This may succeed in the short term, but it backfires in the long run, as seen in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Armed interference in all of these countries has drained the US and its people, who are generally controlled by the political, economic and media elites.

These elites combined work systemically to nurture violence among American citizens, implanting a gung-ho mentality with war seen as the most effective way to solve international problems. Hollywood and video games instil the idea of US (and Israeli) exceptionalism and invulnerability in the minds of the public, so that it becomes easy to recruit them to fight and die in the elite’s battles. The US helps to spread racism in the world by creating divisions among people and inciting them against each other. The old principle well-loved by settler-colonial states is divide and rule; people are easier to manipulate, helping to ensure the concentration of wealth in the hands of the elite that fosters racism.

A simple comparison with cinema in Iran — which the US designates as a sponsor of terrorism — reveals a stark difference. Iranian cinema only rarely focuses on humanitarian and social topics, and hardly ever depicts violence, unlike Hollywood, which thrives on screen violence, normalising it and de-sensitising the audience to the extent that people find it easier to harm their fellow human beings in the service and interests of the elite.

While the economy is failing and education is facing great challenges in America, the government is spending trillions of dollars on unjustified and futile wars, including the one which Israel is waging against the Palestinian people. Sinking more and more resources in the quagmire of the Middle East will only lead to more suffering within America and abroad. Likewise, what is happening in Yemen will have an impact worldwide, not just in Gaza.

The consequences of a war against the Houthis will be much broader, dragging the Zionist colonial project and Western imperialism into a hellish scenario. Regardless of what the Zionists and their supporters in the West believe, they did not create a safe haven for Jews when they created the state of Israel in the heart of the Arab world. The Houthis are turning the tables on everyone in their defence of the Palestinians against Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.