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The bombing of Arab capitals reveals who really stands with Palestine

January 15, 2024 at 10:15 am

Thousands of Yemenis march with Palestinian flags chanting the slogan “We are with you until victory” as they stage a protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza, in Sanaa, Yemen on December 29, 2023 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Having reached its 100th day, Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza has so far claimed the lives of almost 24,000 Palestinians and injured 60,000, sparking a humanitarian crisis in the already besieged enclave, and comes as Israel faces charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The outcome of the case remains uncertain, and while they are binding, the enforcement of any potential rulings is equally unpredictable.

The current war – the occupation state’s longest, costliest and bloodiest against the Palestinian resistance in the aftermath of October’s Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, had raised concerns among many observers relatively early on that it could escalate into a regional war, involving other members of the Axis of Resistance and Israel’s steadfast allies, including chief backer; the US.

In the span of over three months the conflict has witnessed the involvement of Lebanon’s Hezbollah participating in cross-border strikes in the northern front, Iraqi resistance factions targeting US bases in both Iraq and Syria and Yemen’s Ansarallah (“Houthi”)-aligned armed forces launching drone and missile strikes against the occupation entity. Most significantly of all, the Houthis have carried out a series of audacious naval operations against vessels linked to Israel in the Red Sea, undermining Tel Aviv’s trade activity in the southern port of Eilat.

Last month, Sanaa’s military spokesman, Brigadier-General Yahya Saree stated: “The Yemeni armed forces reassure all ships heading to all ports across the world, except for Israeli ports, would be safe and must keep the identifying devices open.”

Despite assurances that it will not attack general merchant ships, war-torn Yemen’s actions in solidarity with Gaza have alarmed the West over the knock-on effect on international maritime security and trade and has since prompted military reactions from the US and Britain with support provided by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and Netherlands.

Already ravaged by a nine-year war, supported by the US and led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Yemen has been consistent in its commendable and unwavering stance among Arab states in providing both vocal and practical support for the Palestinians.

Following the illegal air strikes launched by the US and Britain on Thursday and Friday, which targeted dozens of sites across Sanaa alongside the governorates of Hudaydah, Saada and Dhamar, Deputy Head of Ansarallah’s Media Authority Nasr Al-Din Amer stated:

“We are now relieved that we are being bombed like Gaza. We were ashamed in front of them that they were being bombed and we weren’t.”

It is also worth noting that, while the crisis in Gaza, according to UNRWA, is a “man-made disaster compounded by dehumanizing language and the use of food, water and fuel as instruments of war,” Yemen is still suffering its own humanitarian crisis, still considered to be one of the worst in the world.

This isn’t to say that Sanaa will react passively, as Ansarallah have promised to respond to the attacks. On Thursday the movement’s leader, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi said: “We’ll confront the American aggression,” emphasising that “Any American attack won’t go unpunished.”

BOOK REVIEW: The Huthi Movement in Yemen: Ideology, Ambition, and Security in the Arab Gulf 

Additionally, akin to Israel’s clearly failing strategy in annihilating Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions, the US-led attacks against Yemen will equally end in failure; the Sanaa-based Supreme Political Council has vowed to continue targeting vessels, adding that “all American-British interests have become legitimate targets,” alongside the pre-existing targets of Israel-associated ones.

Moreover the latest aggression against Yemen will only serve to enhance the reputation and legitimacy of the de-facto government in Sanaa both domestically and across the region, while failing to deter the masses from supporting Palestine.

A member of Ansarallah’s political bureau, Fadl Abu Talib, insisted that “The American-British aggression against the Yemeni people will not achieve any results for the enemy and will not be able to discourage the Yemeni people from continuing their support and support for the Palestinian people.”

Last month, another member of the bureau, Ali Al-Qahoum, was cited by Al Mayadeen as saying Yemen will not abandon the Palestinian cause no matter what, despite US, Western and Israeli threats.

The Western response in the name of defending Israel and its genocidal campaign has been the most apparent and severe in relation to the bombing of Sanaa, this also illustrates how bold Ansarallah have been in acting upon their solidarity with Gaza. However, Sanaa hasn’t been the only Arab capital to come under attack since the fallout of Al-Aqsa Flood.

Futile and dangerous: Bombing Yemen in the name of shipping

Damascus in Syria has been under continued bombardment by Israel prior and during its current war on Gaza, including the assassination of a senior military advisor from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Sayyed Razi Mousavi. Attributed to Israel.

Also in Lebanon’s Beirut, specifically the southern suburb of Dahieh (a Hezbollah-stronghold), an Israeli drone strike killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh Al-Arouri. An escalation beyond the cross-border engagements, it was an audacious attack clearly intended to bait Hezbollah into carrying out an erratic, miscalculated response just as the US ended its navy’s presence in the eastern Mediterranean.

Then there is the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which hours after the fourth anniversary of assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, and deputy head of Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, a US strike killed killed at least one senior commander from Harakat Hezbollah Al-Nujaba, a faction of the PMF. Three weeks ago, the US also carried out targeted attacks against positions of notable PMF faction Kataib Hezbollah over persistent operations against American personnel in the country.

The air strikes and targeted assassinations occurring in Arab capitals are not mere coincidences. Indeed, the affected countries share a common denominator—they are staunchly opposed to Zionism and, consequently, align themselves with Iran as members of the Axis of Resistance. In contrast, Arab states that have normalised relations with Israel, or have expressed an intention to do so, such as Saudi Arabia, remain untouched by Israel and its US protector.

It is also clear that Iran, as a leading member of the Resistance Axis, is increasingly under the radar for direct military action, having been singled out for the region’s resistance against Israel. The deadly terrorist attacks in Kerman – Soleimani’s hometown and resting place, was targeted to coincide with commemorations of his martyrdom. While Daesh claimed responsibility, Iranian officials have said Israel and the US played a role. While Washington denied any direct involvement, it also spoke on behalf of Israel to disassociate both countries from the terrorist attack.

If there has been pressure on Hezbollah to up its offensive manoeuvres, Israel desperately wants to coax Iran into war – of course one that the US will fight on its behalf. Yet, this is not conducive nor practical in the multipolar world order we are presently in, especially as the US is no longer “the biggest power in the Middle East”  but Iran, writes the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall, known for his more hawkish, reckless takes.

All states and non-state actors actively supportive of Palestine accept there will be a price to pay in terms of political pressure, economic sanctions and potential military action. These entities are starting to undergo the latter part now, as the war is arguably already a regional one, split between the Axis of Resistance and that of Normalisation.

OPINION: As I said, ‘Only Arab states aligned with Iran will oppose Zionism’

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