Houthi attacks in the Red Sea stoke fears of a widening Middle East conflict following actions by Israel, Hezbollah, and the US.
Roots of conflict: The war between Israel and Hamas, Hezbollah’s rocket attacks, and American military involvement in the Middle East have escalated tensions.
* Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have attacked commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
* The rebels also took credit for launching missiles that obstructed Israeli ships from going through the Red Sea until Israel stopped its military operations in Gaza.
Who are the Houthis: Originating as a rebel group in the late ’80s, the Houthis went into war with the Yemeni government and controlled the capital, Sanaa, by 2014.
* Despite military interventions led by Saudi Arabia, the Houthis have maintained control over large parts of Yemen.
* The UN reports that the ongoing conflict in Yemen has led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with over 24 million people needing aid and protection.
What Comes Next?: Houthi presence in the Red Sea raises concerns about a broader conflict.
* Houthis have targeted ships, including US naval vessels, in previous years. The US retaliated by launching missiles at radar installations in Houthi territory.
* The group has consistently been demonstrating its power and resistance, seen in their continued control over Yemen despite international pressure.
What are the international implications?: Houthi attacks on international vessels could potentially raise the militia group’s international profile.
* The Houthis seizing of a Japanese cargo ship led to Japan engaging directly with the group.
* Thomas Juneau from the University of Ottawa suggests these actions by the Houthis are part of their strategy to receive international recognition as the ruling authority within Yemen.
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