More countries are realizing the threat posed by the Iran-backed Houthis to the Middle East and the global economy. The Houthis have been increasing threats to shipping for two months, and they have had almost total impunity, but this is beginning to change.
The US helped create the task for Prosperity Guardian in mid-December, but the global shipping giant Maersk has paused shipping via the Red Sea after an attack on one of its ships recently, showing that the Houthis only need to pose a credible threat to create havoc.
US Central Command has been spotlighting the Houthi threats, and now the US has said more countries are willing to speak with one voice against the threats. The statement from the White House on January 3 included a joint statement by the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
The statement says that 44 countries have a broad consensus on the threats in the Red Sea, and the UN has also condemned the attacks.
The joint statement issued by the countries notes that the attacks threaten innocent lives and nearly 15 percent of global seaborne trade passes through the Red Sea. The countries call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews.
Russia has also expressed serious concern about the situation in the Red Sea, but it blames the war in Gaza for the attacks, appearing to excuse the attacks.
This leaves questions about what may come next in the Red Sea. Will countries be willing to actually act against the Houthis, or will the Houthis continue to decide on a time and place to attack ships? If most companies refrain from shipping, all the Houthis have to do is wait for any ship to pass and launch a few missiles, and they can then claim to have won by interdicting international trade.
This shows how Iranian-backed proxies choose where to attack and rarely suffer repercussions. It appears groups like Iran and Hamas are able to leverage some other countries that want to exploit these issues for their own reasons to get back at the West. As such, countries like Russia, which would have condemned these attacks several years ago, are now inclined to blame Israel’s operations in Gaza.