After 15 minutes, the message reached Iran. What implications arise from America and Britain striking Houthi sites?


The airstrikes by the US and Britain, directed at numerous Houthi sites in Yemen, served as a distinct message to Iran and its allies in the Middle East, particularly Lebanese Hezbollah. This action followed prior warnings from Washington to Tehran, cautioning against leveraging the conflict in Gaza to escalate tensions and secure strategic advantages.

The January 12th strikes came as part of the Operation Prosperity Guardian formed by the United States with the aim of stopping the Houthi group’s attacks on ships passing through the Bab al-Mandab Strait or the Red Sea, which affected 60 Houthi targets and did not last more than 15 minutes, at a time when Washington vowed that it was ready for more if Ansar Allah continued its assaults.

What happened?

On October 7th last year, Israel launched the most violent attack on the Gaza Strip, in response to a surprise attack carried out by the Palestinian Hamas groups on settlements surrounding Gaza. The result was that approximately 100,000 Palestinians were killed or wounded, aftermath the attacks of the pro-Iranian Houthi group began targeting ships in Red sea, they say these ships are belonging to Israel.

The Houthis have stated that their attacks on ships are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in support of Hamas, which receives backing from Iran. The Houthis control substantial areas in Yemen, particularly along the Red Sea, a critical shipping route. This area includes the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest international shipping lanes that connects Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The Houthis’ first step came on November 19 when they used a helicopter to attack a car carrier chartered to a Japanese company and belonging to an Israeli businessman, they detained ship crew, then announced that all ships that would pass through the Red Sea and related to Tel Aviv would be a legitimate target for their forces. They continued to actually target the ships, despite most of its attacks failed, but most companies, on the other hand, decided to move away from the Red Sea and return to the Cape of Good Hope route around Africa, which increased the cost and time of commercial shipping.

Regarding the Houthi attacks, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated two weeks ago that the Yemeni group’s practices are carried out at the behest of the Iranian side. The latter, denied any connection to the attacks, but he stressed that Iran supports them, at a time US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent a message via the Sultanate of Uman to Tehran. He warns it of the consequences of exploiting developments in the Gaza situation in order to expand the circle of conflict in the region to achieve some gains, according to a previous report by Reuters news agency.

Washington began on December 18 to form a naval mission to counter Houthi attacks, there was no American-led action until January 9th when US and British warships shot down 21 Houthi drones, and a missile as the largest attack at the time, the next day, the US Secretary of State confirmed that further strikes might lead to a military response, which was the case, and 60 Houthi sites were bombed.

Many messages were conveyed

Jonathan Panikoff , a former US intelligence official, argues in an analysis published on the Atlantic Council website that such strategic strikes are primarily aimed at limiting the strikes of the Houthis: those who are emboldened from Iranian support, also carry a meaningful message to other Iranian proxies about the US’ willingness to use force in the region.

The analyst specialized in Middle East affairs added that Washington is ready to use force not only to protect itself but also to protect its allies and partners. He explained that according to Tehran, the Houthis may be their least important, and least controllable agent, but the strikes constituted a test through which the American reaction can be measured to the attacks launched by Iranian arms, mostly Lebanese Hezbollah.

Panikoff said that the US-British strikes are necessity. It is true that they increase the risk of regional escalation. Nonetheless, if Iran and its proxies perceive themselves as unhindered in spreading terrorist influence across the region, the risk of a more extensive and lethal regional conflict is imminent. The speaker emphasized that this scenario is increasingly likely in the upcoming months. He stressed that addressing the situation demands further strikes on Houthi positions to effectively discourage Iran and its proxies.

US President Joe Biden announced after the strikes that they came as a direct response to the Houthis’ unprecedented targeting of international ships passing through the Red Sea, which included the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history, He stressed that he would not hesitate to take further measures against the Ansar Allah group.

Indeed, Biden fulfilled his promise in next day, as a US official said that his country launched a new strikes in Yemen, according to CNN, while local sources told Reuters that 3 strong explosions were heard at the Dailami military base near Sana’a International Airport.

Concerns about a potential regional conflict

Dr. Mohammed al-Yamani, an expert in international relations, said in a statement to Target Media platform that the US-British strikes on the Houthis positions came after successive warnings from Washington to them, but the latter ignored those warnings and continued to target ships belonging to Israel in the Red Sea.

He further stated that the strikes occur at a pivotal moment for the Middle East. He also expressed the belief that the impactful strikes, affecting four Yemeni cities, signify that the US is no longer hesitant to open a new war front in the regional conflict. The involvement of Britain implies the potential emergence of multiple active conflicts in the Middle East.

Al-Yamani said that Washington’s bypassing the issue of avoiding opening a new front for the conflict, means a lot of danger, not only to Iran and its proxies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, but also to all countries of the region. Therefore, the scenarios for the coming period will be difficult in light of indications that the American side has abandoned its caution regarding the issue of the expansion of the Gaza conflict to other hotspots.

The Houthis launched more than 27 attacks, affecting 50 countries, including 20 whose crews were threatened and some of whom were held hostage. Meanwhile, 2,000 ships were forced to move away from the Red Sea, opting for alternative routes around Africa. This led to significant shipping delays lasting for weeks, in addition to high costs and due to world suffering from difficult economic conditions as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war.



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