The U.S. and U.K. military strikes against Yemen’s Houthi rebels are unlikely to achieve their goal of reopening the Red Sea shipping lanes, as the Houthis only need to continue their attempts to disrupt shipping to maintain an effective blockade, writes Middle East analyst Trita Parsi for Time.
This blockade affects 12% of global trade. Rather than deterring the Houthis, Parsi opines, the military strikes have inadvertently strengthened the Houthis’ ability to disrupt international shipping.
The Houthis’ Successful Disruption Strategy
The Houthis have been launching missile attacks on commercial vessels, increasing the cost of shipping and deterring companies from using these routes. The U.S.’s retaliatory strikes have only served to heighten tensions and further discourage shipping companies from using these routes.
The Houthis’ missile attacks have continued, with a missile being shot down by the U.S. Navy on Sunday. Despite not hitting its target, the missile served its purpose of maintaining high tensions and deterring Western ships. The Houthis have already succeeded in impacting Israel’s economy and undermining the US and UK’s efforts to reestablish deterrence.
The Potential for a Full-Scale Regional War
The Biden administration could choose to intensify its targeting of Houthi weapons depots and missile launchers, but this is unlikely to significantly degrade the Houthi’s military capabilities due to their large arsenal and estimated 200,000 fighters. Continued strikes will only escalate tensions and increase the likelihood of a full-scale regional war, an outcome the Biden administration claims to want to avoid.
Ignoring Calls for a Ceasefire
The Houthis have publicly stated their demands for an end to attacks on Red Sea ships in exchange for Israel halting strikes on Palestinians in Gaza. A temporary truce in Gaza last year saw a significant decrease in Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. However, the U.S. has ignored these warnings and vetoed multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire.
A ceasefire is more likely to reduce Houthi and Iraqi militia attacks, reduce tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border, secure the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, and prevent further civilian casualties in Gaza. However, under the guise of restoring deterrence, the Biden administration has done the opposite.
Read more at Time.com