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Sabra Express | Houthis Heating Up

Haley Britzky and Oren Liebermann, CNN, January 17th, 2024

 

Recap:

The US carried out another round of strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, marking the fourth time the US has struck the Iran-backed rebel group in less than a week.

 

The Context:

·      The Houthis, who rally under the banner “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam,” are a rebel movement that seized Yemen’s capital in 2014 and survived a years-long Saudi-led campaign aimed at returning the government to power. Two-thirds of Yemen’s people live in territory now controlled by the Houthis, who are backed financially and militarily by Iran. 24 million Yemenis are at risk of hunger and disease [1].

·      Since the start of the war on October 7th, when Hamas killed 1,200, mostly civilian, Israelis and kidnapped hundreds more, the Houthis have launched drones and missiles at Southern Israel in solidarity with Hamas. They have also attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea causing 2,000 vessels to divert since November, inflicting significant disruptions to global trade [2]. Many of the ships targeted have had no ties to Israel whatsoever [3], and the Biden administration announced that it would put the Houthis back on the list of specially designated terrorists [4].

·      The US and UK are backed by a coalition consisting of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Korea. The Pentagon is targeting radar systems, drone storage and launch sites as well as missile storage and launch facilities [5]. It is believed that the strikes have destroyed roughly a third of the Houthis overall offensive capabilities [6].

·      In addition to Iran, the Houthis are also connected to North Korea. In 2016, the Houthi's leadership invited North Korean officials to meet in Syria to discuss technology transfers. North Korea’s illegal arms smuggling network is used to finance its nuclear weapons program [7].

 

Conversation Points:

·      Why doesn’t Israel take an active role in the coalition’s fight against the Houthis?

·      Why will sanctions hit Yemeni civilians harder than it will hit the Houthis?

·      Given Iran's influence on terrorist groups in the region, why doesn't the coalition focus on addressing the root cause by confronting Iran directly?

 

Notes:

1.     US slaps terror label back on Yemen’s Houthis, partly restoring Trump-era sanctions JACOB MAGID, Times of Israel, January 17th, 2024.

2.     Ibid.

3.     What we know about strikes on Houthis and strategy behind them, Jonathan Beale, BBC, January 12th, 2024

4.     U.S. Navy carries out new round of strikes against Houthis in Yemen, Dan Lamothe, Washington Post, January 17th, 2024.

5.     What we know about strikes on Houthis and strategy behind them, Jonathan Beale, BBC, January 12th, 2024

6.     US slaps terror label back on Yemen’s Houthis, partly restoring Trump-era sanctions JACOB MAGID, Times of Israel, January 17th, 2024.

 

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