A Swiss newspaper said that a group The Houthis By intensifying its attacks in the Red Sea in recent weeks, Yemeni forces targeted ships that trade – according to its opinion – with Israel. It forced part of the maritime transport to avoid the Suez Canal. What did this group gain from that?
To answer this question, Lotan conducted an interview with anthropologist Franck Mermier, a specialist in Yemen, and director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research, to clarify the calculations behind this operation, as the Houthis were able, by appearing as defenders of the Palestinian cause, to enhance their legitimacy.
Mermier explained – according to a summary of this interview by writer Luis Lima – that the Houthis’ resounding entry on the scene came in the context of supporting the Palestinian cause, which made their work enjoy widespread support in Yemen even outside the areas of their control, and appreciation in the Arab world that supports the Palestinians, which may It gives them a degree of regional influence, especially since their participation was quite effective, as it affected the supplies of Israeli ports directly.
This action reflects the Houthis’ desire to demonstrate their strength at the national and international levels, and that they represent legitimacy in Yemen. Through it, they also send a message to their neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia, in order to raise the ceiling of negotiations with them to gain some concessions.
The American coalition faces a major dilemma – according to Mermier – because its military intervention in the bases where the Houthis are located may lead to accelerating insecurity in the country. The Red Sea This will exacerbate the problem, but if they do nothing, maritime trade will be exposed to more obstacles, and Israel may decide to intervene directly.
Although the Houthis' bet is currently the winner, the writer believes that it is difficult to judge the level of rationality in their decision, because they have gone too far in the game, which may jeopardize their current gains with regard to the ceasefire and negotiations with Saudi Arabia, for example, and in easing the siege on the port of Hodeidah and the airport. Sanaa, because the coalition and the various fleets may impose a blockade on them, so that nothing will cross to them, even humanitarian aid, which would be disastrous.
The French researcher concluded when asked about the relationship between the Houthis and Iran: This movement, at its beginning, was linked to feelings of frustration and regional and religious marginalization, and had internal reasons that had nothing to do with Iran. However, when it seized power in 2014, it obtained technical and logistical assistance from Tehran, although that does not mean that it serves Iran’s interests.
Today, it is similar to the groups that respond to Tehran’s interests in Iraq, and it also imitates pro-Iranian movements, such as Hizb allah The Lebanese woman, whom she seems to take as her model.