A Lesson from Yemen about the Dangers of a Ceasefire in Gaza

In 2018, a Saudi-led Arab coalition, after three years of fighting against the Houthis in Yemen, was closing in on the strategically crucial port city of Hudaydah. Rather than encouraging the coalition to take the city and come closer to ending the war, the coalition’s Western allies pressured it into accepting an agreement that left the city in Houthi hands while obtaining only symbolic gestures in return. The Biden administration, entertaining a fantasy of “ending the war,” three years later cut off arms sales to the Saudis. As a result, Yemen’s suffering continues unabated, and the Houthis can now fire ballistic missiles at Israel and stifle global commerce.

Ari Heistein and Nathaniel Rabkin fear that the U.S. is going to try to force a similar plan on Israel before it attacks Rafah, with equally catastrophic results:

The parallels with Hamas in Rafah are clear and ominous. . . . Hamas is perfectly willing to create a humanitarian catastrophe as it defends its chokehold on Gaza—but allowing it to keep control means submitting to its forever war against the existence of Israel, and its constant efforts to humiliate the West and moderate Arab states. Any agreement with Hamas to facilitate some kind of compromise over the Rafah crossing is likely to turn out like the Hudaydah agreement, a fig leaf for continued control by militants who prioritize war above all else, and treat humanitarian concerns as an opportunity for profiteering and propaganda.

Hamas and the Houthis . . . are groups that have mortgaged all of their prestige on unwinnable and extremely brutal wars. . . . Before signing on to a ceasefire with groups like these, we need to see a “ceasefire” the way they do—as a temporary pause until they can gather more forces, develop more weapons, devise new tactics, and then break the ceasefire with a surprise attack, to initiate yet another battle in their campaigns of conquest.

Read more at The Cipher Brief

More about: Gaza War 2023, Houthis, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security