Iran’s Use of Regional Proxies: Perspectives from the Arab Media

The limits of Iran’s regional proxies

An-Nahar, Lebanon, January 26

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In recent months, attention has shifted from Israel’s conflict in Gaza to the aggressive actions of the Houthi militias in Yemen; and Hezbollah in Lebanon. These groups have targeted not only Israeli sites but also international shipping and US and UK naval vessels. These attacks have disrupted global supply chains and threatened international maritime navigation. Fortunately, the Western coalition, led by the United States, has responded strongly to these attacks. They have begun systematically destroying missile launchers, weapon infrastructure, and explosive materials. This response is crucial to safeguarding global security and ensuring the freedom of international trade. Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli forces have remained relatively small-scale skirmishes. However, Israel has treated them as a serious threat and has launched counterattacks. It is clear that these actions by the Houthi group and Hezbollah are coordinated and carried out under the direction of Iran. Iran is well aware of the limitations of its proxies’ capabilities, compared to the Western coalition. It is important to note that the strength of the Houthis, Hezbollah, and other factions in the region pales in comparison to the resources and capabilities of the international coalition. Iran is merely a dwarf in the face of this alliance. Western strikes against the Houthi group will continue until the security of international sea lanes is ensured. The slogans and rhetoric from Tehran and Sanaa will not deter these efforts. Similarly, Israel will continue its escalation against Hezbollah because it seeks to provoke war. The reality on the ground is far different from what the resistance axis claims. Iran understands the limits within which it operates its armed groups in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. Any violations of these boundaries will be met with swift and decisive action. In Lebanon, we can expect to continue seeing Israeli airstrikes and assassinations in response to Hezbollah provocations. In Syria, the regime’s lack of involvement in what’s happening in Palestine, Lebanon, and the region speaks volumes. It is clear that the central regime in Syria does not prioritize these causes, and this should be taken into account. In conclusion, the actions of the Houthi group and Hezbollah are not representative of an unbeatable resistance axis, led by Iran. The Western coalition, backed by formidable military capabilities, will continue to defend international security and ensure the stability of global trade. – Ali Hamada

The Suez Canal and the Houthi war

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, January 27

The Suez Canal has endured numerous crises throughout its history. It was closed during the Tripartite Aggression in 1956 and faced further setbacks in June 1967. However, since its reopening in 1975, it has proudly flown the Egyptian flag, faithfully serving global trade. In 2014, the canal entered a new era with the excavation of a parallel canal, the deepening of its waters, and the establishment of an economic zone alongside it, complete with ports, factories, and logistics areas. This development transformed the canal into Egypt’s prized possession, bolstering its financial and economic resources. Unfortunately, this status quo was ruptured when the Houthi group, a faction involved in the Yemeni civil war, targeted the canal. This civil war, born out of the Arab Spring movement, pitted the Houthi Ansar Allah group against the legitimate Yemeni government. Ansar Allah is an Iranian-backed entity, similar to groups we’ve seen appear in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, which receive weapons, funds, training, and political propaganda from Iran. Seizing the opportunity presented by the Gaza war, the Houthis attempted to use the Palestinian cause as a shield to advance their own agenda and propaganda. The battleground for the Houthis’ war became the Red Sea, where they targeted vessels headed toward Israel with missiles and drones provided by Iran. Thus, their shallow statements claiming to support the Palestinian cause hold little weight, as they had no means of discerning whether the ships they targeted were actually en route to Israel or merely part of a multinational company transporting goods for various countries after transiting the Suez Canal. Most ships passing through the Red Sea adhere to international maritime law and fly flags representing countries utilized by international corporations engaged in global trade. The Houthis, however, display no regard for the flags flown by these vessels. They have targeted all of them indiscriminately. Despite their supposed interest in international law, when it comes to the people of Gaza they brazenly violate maritime law by jeopardizing international trade, including the functioning of the Egyptian Suez Canal, as well as the security of other Arab nations. – Abdel Moneim Saeed

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.