Iran’s Allies Escalate in Yemen, Threatening International Shipping Routes

Last week, in response to attacks on an American naval vessel, the U.S destroyed three coastal radar installations used by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia. An earlier missile strike by the same militia was directed at ships of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a member of the Saudi-led and U.S.-supported anti-Houthi coalition. Despite the U.S. response, the Houthis have continued to fire at American ships. Michael Segall explains the significance of this conflict:

The firing of guided shore-to-sea missiles at U.S. and UAE ships constitutes an escalation in the Yemeni conflict and could pose a threat to a key international sea lane in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The ability to fire guided missiles, along with their long-range (120 km), endangers not only the [Saudi-led] coalition’s freedom of action and ability to enforce the Arab embargo [on the Houthis], but also civilian vessels, including tankers that operate in the area.

Iran’s aid to the Houthi rebels has apparently increased. . . . Iran is [evidently now] prepared to provide tie-breaking weapons that could help the Houthis breach the naval blockade that Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have imposed on Yemen. . . . It [also] appears . . . that, since the Houthis have held their own in the battles, the embargo is ineffective and Iran has [already] found other lanes for transferring weapons. . . .

For Iran, Yemen is a perfect venue for [testing its weaponry and tactics]. Iran is preparing for future engagement with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf where [it] frequently provokes and sometimes humiliates American naval presence in the area. The Americans’ reaction to launching the missiles against its ships may change the dynamics. Playing the incident down will again play into Iranian propaganda and bolster Iran’s already overconfident and defiant stance.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Naval strategy, Red Sea, U.S. Security, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict