Researcher: Houthis say they support Palestinians, but have their own motives behind Red Sea attacks – Foreign Countries

As the Houthis soften their relationship with Saudi Arabia, they need a new adversary, and Israel fits the role.


of Yemen Domestic politics and opportunistic motives are behind the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, says the director of the Finnish Middle East Institute, a long-time researcher in Yemen. Susanne Dahlgren.

The Iran-backed Houthis have recently launched several attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea. According to the Houthis, the aim of the attacks was to show support for the Palestinians in Gaza and to pressure Israel to end hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

The media often talk about the Houthi rebels, which Dahlgren considers an outdated term. He prefers to talk about the Houthi regime, as the Houthis are in power in Yemen's second capital, Sana'a. Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when Houthi rebels captured Sana'a.

The Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition held a six-month ceasefire last year, and fighting has largely stopped since then.

According to Dahlgren, the Houthis' support in Yemen is based on the Houthis' opposition to Saudi Arabia, not on good governance. However, now the Houthis and the Saudis are working towards peace.

“Their Houthis had to find a new enemy, and this enemy is now Israel,” says Dahlgren.

“Twenty years ago when the Houthis organized themselves as a political movement, one of its main characteristics was 'death to Israel' meaning it was very natural.”

However, according to Dahlgren, the Palestinian issue has not surfaced in Yemen, especially since the 1970s and 1980s.

“The Houthis are launching attacks in the Red Sea to boost their own national status,” he says.

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Dahlgren doesn't believe the Houthis can really influence what Israel does in Gaza.

Blows the win

Israel's massive offensive on Gaza following an attack by Hamas in October has angered the Arab world.

According to Dalhgren, the Red Sea offensive has actually been a “complete victory” for the Houthis, bringing international media attention and praise for their solidarity with the Palestinians, including the leader of the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah. Hasan Nasrallahhilda.

On the Red Sea coast, Yemenis have organized tours of the Galaxy Leader ship that was hijacked last month. In addition, the Houthis said that thanks to the operation of the Gaza war, it is now easier to recruit soldiers to their forces, Dahlgren says.

According to the analyst, it is in the interests of the Houthis to continue their attacks in the Red Sea.

America blamed Iran

Last week, the United States announced the launch of a ten-nation joint operation to protect maritime traffic in the Red Sea.

Later in the week, the United States also accused Iran, which backs the Houthis, of participating not only in supplying weapons to the Red Sea offensive but also in planning the operations.

On Tuesday, the United States said it had shot down several Houthi planes and missiles in the Red Sea.

Five missiles and twelve drones were fired at ships operating in the area, however, CENTCOM, the headquarters of US forces in the Middle East, was not targeted. By caused damage. Also, no injuries are reported.

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