Houthi’s Criticism of US-led Naval Force and Threat to the Region: An Analysis

The Iran-backed Houthis have responded to the announcement that the US will back a new naval force in the Red Sea. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a new multinational security initiative, while traveling in Bahrain on Tuesday. The goal of the force, which involves key countries. such as the UK, France, the US, and Italy, is to provide security in the Red Sea. The Houthis have attacked numerous ships and escalated their attacks in the last weeks. The Houthis have now responded. In several articles at Al-Masirah, which is aligned with the Houthis, the group articulated its views. First of all, the Houthis argue that “the American-formed coalition is to protect Israel.” They accuse the US of “militarization” of the sea, even though it is the Houthis who are attacking ships and trying to hijack ships. “Yemen’s naval operations aim to support the Palestinian people in confronting the aggression and siege on Gaza and are not a show of force or a challenge to anyone,” the Houthis claim. The reality is that they have illegally attacked ships and that this led to an unprecedented crisis in the region. It is clear the Houthis are watching the formation of the new initiative closely. They know the US has an aircraft carrier that is now moving closer to Yemen. They also know another US destroyer is in the Red Sea to back the USS Mason and USS Carney. “The United States tried to include 40 countries in this coalition, but only nine responded to Washington, most of them countries allied with Washington, such as the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Seychelles Islands, and Spain. In addition, Bahrain’s participation is worthless, according to observers,” the Houthi media said. This shows the Iran-backed Houthis are paying close attention to what comes next. They have gambled that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE likely won’t openly participate. They are willing to threaten these countries. A second article in the Houhti-linked Al-Masirah shows the real goal of the Houthis. They reference previous reports about closer economic cooperation between Israel and countries in the region. During the G20 in September, an announcement was made about a new railway project. The report at Globes noted, “At the G20 summit in New Delhi today, the US, India, EU, and Saudi Arabia announced the promotion of a major railway and sea transport corridor between India and Europe via the Middle East. The project includes a rail link between Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The summit was attended by leaders including US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and EU President Ursula von der Leyen, which demonstrates the importance that the leaders attach to the plan, which would strengthen economic ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem.” The Houthis want to sabotage this. The Hamas attack on Israel also sought to derail possible Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization. Iran’s hand is everywhere in this agenda. The Houthis now slam the Arab countries for enabling any transport via land that might help Israel. They openly note that a route like this could “compensate for the Red Sea route that the Yemeni armed forces closed to enemy ships and ships heading to it.” The Houthi media went on to claim that “this clearly indicates that this land bridge represents a manifestation of the alignment of the puppet regimes with the Zionists.” This means the Houthis could expand their attacks against countries in the region. Their attacks have already caused risks to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt because the Houthi drones and missiles have either overflown those countries or risked crashing into the areas of their countries.