How serious is what is happening?

New bombings hit Houthi targets in Yemen this Saturday, after the Iran-funded rebel group threatened to continue its crackdown against ships in the Red Sea, a key route for global trade.

(Also: New bombing in Yemen against Houthi military base, according to security sources)

The bombing came a day after the United States and the United Kingdom launched attacks on multiple targets in the country, whose capital Sanaa has been controlled by the Houthis since 2014. Those attacks raised fears of a regional war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But what is happening and how serious is this situation? Here we explain it in eight questions.

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(Keep reading: Why attacks in Yemen increase the risk of the Gaza conflict spreading)

1. What is happening in the Red Sea and why are ships being attacked?

Since mid-November, after the war between Hamas and Israel began on October 7, the Houthi militia, a Yemeni rebel group backed by Iran, has carried out dozens of attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea they say are linked to Israeli interests. Are. , Rebels who support Hamas say it is a way to put pressure on Israel and show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israeli forces have launched a wide-ranging military offensive. The attacks have alarmed world powers, especially the United States, Israel’s main ally. More than 50 countries have been directly affected by traffic disruption in the Red Sea.

2. Why is this serious and what is its relation to global maritime trade?

Houthi attacks in the Red Sea have forced the world’s major shipping companies to adjust their routes to avoid transit through this route, where about 15 percent of global seaborne trade operates, including 8 percent of grain, Contains 12 percent oil and 8 percent. Percentage of world trade in liquefied natural gas. The crisis is becoming evident in prices, and the price of a barrel of crude has risen nearly 4 percent since Friday, when the United States and the United Kingdom launched strikes in defense of global economic interests.,

(Also read: Who are Yemen’s Houthi rebels and why did America and Britain attack them?)

3. Who are the Houthis and which areas of Yemen do they control?

Although their official name is Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), the group is known as the Houthis after their founder Hussein Badreddine al Houthi, who started a movement against Yemeni government corruption in the 1980s. Its relations are with Saudi Arabia. And the United States. The movement, which follows the Zaidi Shia branch of Islam and is funded by Iran, seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014 and has since seized control of large areas of the country’s north and west, where rebels currently hold out. Waging a war. war. War with the internationally recognized Yemeni government,

4. Why did the United States and the United Kingdom decide to bomb Yemen on Friday?

The United States and the United Kingdom on Friday launched 73 strikes on multiple Houthi military targets in at least six provinces of Yemen, killing five fighters, the rebels themselves confirmed. In a statement, Washington and London, supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and South Korea, justified the action in protecting international trade and those crossing the Red Sea. In response, the Houthi rebels declared “open war” on those countries.

(Also: Houthis say five of their members killed in US and UK bombing)

5. So is the threat of war looming between world powers and Houthi rebels?

This cannot be predicted. The Middle East is in suspense due to the risk that the conflict in Gaza will spread and that other fronts such as the Red Sea will be activated after the bombing. However, Washington and London reassure that they are not seeking a confrontation with the Houthis and confirm that the strikes are only to deter the rebel group and limit their abilities to launch missiles and drones against cargo ships. . But The rebels called the attacks “unjustified” and even “terrorist” and promised that these actions would not go unanswered.,

6. How important is Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen?

The Houthis are backed by Iran, a regional power and rival of Israel and Saudi Arabia. With an estimated army of at least 200,000 men, the rebel group is well trained and accustomed to fighting in mountainous and harsh terrain. Its long-range missiles and drones, developed with Iranian technology, are considered a serious threat to its neighbors in the Gulf of Aden. Additionally, by saying they are attacking Israel and its US ally while showing solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, the Houthis have strengthened their popular base in Yemen and other countries in the region.

(Also read: Why do Yemen’s Houthis attack ships in the Red Sea and what is its impact on trade?)

7. What do Yemenis say about the threat of new conflict in their country?

Residents of areas of Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels worry their country will be dragged into a new war that will prevent the population from recovering from the internal conflict that has ravaged the country for a decade. And after nearly ten years of war between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, more than 24 million people – 80 percent of the population – are dependent on humanitarian aid.While more than 14 million people are in need of immediate assistance and three million have been displaced since Saudi Arabia intervened in the conflict in 2015.

8. Will the peace process in that Middle Eastern nation be jeopardized?

The United Nations mission in Yemen has warned that bombings by the United States and the United Kingdom and attacks by Houthi rebels against shipping in the Red Sea jeopardize efforts to achieve peace in the punishing Arab country, plunged into war since 2014. The head of the UN mission, Hans Grundberg, has said that he “notes with great concern the increasingly uncertain regional context and its adverse impact on peace efforts in Yemen and stability and security in the region.”Calling for “maximum restraint” to de-escalate tensions.

William Moreno Hernandez

international editorial


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