What is behind the attacks in the Red Sea?

Henry

The war between the Israeli army and the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip is already a low-intensity regional war, as other states and especially various terrorist groups interfere.

Particularly fatal is the role of Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy, which is not directly involved in the conflict, but uses numerous Islamic terrorist groups to attack Israel. Hamas is also a protégé of Iran, but Iran is currently holding it back with open support for Hamas. Hamas’s horrific attack on Israel on October 7 last year was apparently launched without Iran’s knowledge and consent.

Hezbollah in Lebanon is another pawn of Iran that regularly fires rockets into Israel’s territory. Iran also uses the theological division in Islam between the majority denomination Sunnis and the minority denomination Shiites. Iran is the most important representative of the Shia denomination and also its pawns are usually groups that follow the Shia and rebel against the majority denomination in their respective countries.

The Houthis in Yemen are also Shiites and for a long time were an obscure rebel group in the extreme north of the country, which rebelled against the central government of the then dictator Ali Saleh from 2004. With the turmoil that followed the Arab uprisings in 2010 and the resignation of Saleh, the Houthis, thanks to the support of Iran, quickly gained ground and conquered the northern, mountainous part of Yemen (which also includes the capital Sanah) in 2014. The official government, with Saleh’s successor Mansour al-Hadi, is confined to the desert-like south around the second-largest city of Aden.

Interestingly, the old borders between North and South Yemen, which were united in 1990, are breaking open again. Yemen is a poor and backward country, but strategically important due to its location on the Bab El Mandeb strait that connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and is one of the most important sea routes in the world that connects Europe with the East.

Saudi Arabia, which considers itself to be the regional power on the Arabian peninsula, together with the United Arab Emirates waged an unsuccessful war against the Houthi rebels in defense of the official government of Yemen.

For a while it was quiet in Yemen, but with the dawn of the war in Gaza, the Houthis, probably at the behest of Iran, made themselves known and attacked merchant ships with rockets and drones. Allegedly, this is in support of Hamas and only ships that have a conflict with Israel are attacked. However, this also applies to ships that have a broad connection with the West.

This prompted the US and Great Britain to in turn attack targets in Yemen with the aim of reducing the Houthi’s military capability. For international shipping, the attacks mean major detours via the Cape of Good Hope and additional costs.

The Houthi’s attacks also serve a political purpose, namely to attract attention in the Arab-Islamic world and to unite their own population behind them, who otherwise have nothing to get excited about due to the bad economic conditions.