The United States intends to fight the Houthis in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Should one expect a ground operation? Which countries support the Houthis and which support the States? What transport routes can help solve this problem? Why is it only Iran that can unblock the Bab el-Mandeb Strait? Pravda.Ru asked these and other questions to political scientist and Middle East specialist Elena Grebennikova.
"The United States gathered a coalition of ten countries in the area of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and announced the start of Operation Guardian of Prosperity. The goal of the operation is to fight Yemeni Houthis that dared to declare war on Israel for genocide in Gaza and started attacking ships in the strait. The Houthis have thus blocked as much as ten percent of international trade. How do you assess this situation?"
"The Houthis have been fighting since 2015. The military operation against them turned out to be futile and was curtailed. Yet, Houthi rebels enjoy the support of Iran and may pursue their goals by conducting subversive activities against shipping companies in the Red Sea. This is a big problem, especially for the countries that use this transport route. For Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a strategic region.
"The US-led operation is important, but it won't go too far. The United States is not going to make it another Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq there.
"Most likely, the military operation will affect maritime territories and lead to an agreement with Iran on the situation in Gaza. The US may also ease sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
"This conflict is not very beneficial for Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Western states have joined the coalition, but Yemen’s neighbours would not want to enter into a conflict. They will try to stay away from it as much as possible. Some consequences of this conflict are disadvantageous for the United States as well. Therefore, everything will most likely end in negotiations with Iran.
Houthi rebels are not just brave guys that fear nothing - they simply carry out the tasks that people from big politics assigned for them.
"The situation with Hamas is also interesting. On the one hand, Hamas is associated with Iran, but on the other hand, when Hamas attacked Israel, they could not but understand that Tel Aviv would bring Gaza to rubble. Perhaps the situation that we can now see now in Gaza is happening not only because the Palestinians live under the oppression of Israel. This could be a move that external political players are making as part of a big game of politics. After all, this conflict has been going on for a very long time. Why has it escalated now and why in this form? It was said that Israeli intelligence allegedly failed to see Hamas preparing the operation. Seriously? There are many questions here.
The Houthis have now managed to block the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The Americans can stop this for a while without even making a serious effort. But it must be a system that will make the Bab el-Mandeb Strait safe for the long time.
Blocking the strait will lead to economic losses. The workarounds they are trying to find now are not so profitable, and everyone is aware of that. This conflict highlights a very important topic - transport and logistics routes, such as China's One Belt – One Road, USA's 2023 project from India through the Middle East to Europe and Russia's North – South route.
Russia offered transporting containers to Europe via the Northern Sea Route.