The death toll from Israel's bombing of Gaza has risen to 31,184

Is Yemen headed for military escalation with the US and its allies?

In light of the Houthis' continued attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the picture of where things will lead in Yemen is dim and unclear.

Officials and experts believe that the Houthi-Iranian strategy in Yemen is moving toward military escalation with the United States and its allies, warning that the situation could spiral out of control if large human or material losses occur.

The Yemeni parties have so far adhered – unofficially – to a peace plan (in three stages) agreed under the auspices of the United Nations, which was the result of Saudi and Omani efforts in the past months.

UN Chairman of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council during an earlier meeting in Riyadh with Ambassador (Sabah).

In parallel, a Yemeni Defense Ministry source told Asharq Al-Awsad that the Houthi terrorist group used the events in Gaza and its attacks in the Red Sea to regroup the tribes and send more forces towards Marib. Oily.

The Yemeni government says the Houthi group is using the war in Gaza as a means to evade UN-led peace accords and is trying to whitewash ongoing crimes against Yemenis, blocking roads, blocking oil exports and the siege of Dice.

UN for Yemen Ambassador Hans Grundberg announced at the end of December that he had reached peace commitments from the Yemeni government and the Houthis and supported the development and implementation of a road map.

The ambassador said the parties reached a commitment to a number of measures, including the implementation of an all-encompassing ceasefire in Yemen, measures to improve living conditions and engage in preparations to resume an inclusive political process. United Nations. But Grundberg acknowledged that mediation efforts in Yemen cannot be completely isolated from what is happening regionally, and he has stated in previous reports that “an escalation of regional tensions related to the war in Gaza, particularly a military escalation in the Red Sea, will lead to a slowdown in the pace of peace efforts in Yemen,” he expressed, “in the country.” Threats of re-fighting will increase,” he expressed his fear.

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Houthi group vows to continue naval strikes, says it supports Palestinians in Gaza (AFP)

For his part, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saqr, head of the Gulf Research Center, believes that Saudi Arabia is “concerned with continuing the peace process in Yemen,” but “increasing the Houthi conflict with the Americans in an election year” could spin the situation out of control, especially in the event of large human or material losses.” » .

In turn, a senior Yemeni official described the current scene as “dark”, indicating that “the country lives in a state of neither war nor peace”.

The official, who declined to be identified, added in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsad: “The situation is murky and unclear so far.” Asked if there were discussions about the visit of a member of the presidential leadership team to the British capital London and legal support, he replied: “The visit was casual and organized ahead of events. Red Sea.”

The Houthi's chief negotiator, Muhammad Abdel Salam, confirmed in an earlier interview with Asharq al-Awsad that the peace scene in Yemen “has been progressing well since the UN ceasefire began in April 2022, whether related to the month of Ramadan. Time, or through discussions with them… The Saudi side is sponsored by Oman and is doing well so far.

Saudi Arabia has made great efforts in the past to bring Yemeni parties closer together and reach a Peace Plan (SPA).

Houthi assurances match repeated warnings from the legitimate government that the Houthis are not serious about peace and are working to buy time, reorganize their ranks, and then resume offensives on internal fronts.

Turning to a Yemeni Ministry of Defense source, he confirmed that “the Houthis will not stop attacking ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.” The source, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “The Houthis continue to mobilize and train, taking advantage of events in Gaza and tribal sympathies for the Palestinian cause, after reaching a point where they have lost popular support. He lost his popularity.

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He continued: “He has regained his popularity by appearing as the defender of Gaza, and this enables him to mobilize more (…). He mobilized in the name of supporting Gaza and led them to Marib, which he says passes through the road to Gaza, but also the national army. The tribes are also waiting for them. He adds: “If legitimacy gets military and economic support from the coalition, the Houthis will be removed from the field (…). We know them well. They do not abide by any agreement. How can we expect peace from a militia established to kill, destroy, destroy?” ?

The German warship “Hessen” has engaged two Houthi patrols in the Red Sea in its first operation (AFP).

Things are heading towards military expansion

Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saqr, head of the Jeddah-based Gulf Research Center, believes that things are moving toward a field military expansion with the United States and its allies within the Iranian-Houthi strategy in Yemen.

Bin Sakr pointed out in an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsad, “There is the Houthis' insistence on continuing and increasing naval attacks, and a declared intention to deepen human and material losses, and the US deterrence and defense methods have yet to have any effect on Iran's strategy in Yemen.”

Dr. Abdul Aziz Bin Sakr, Head (Middle East), Gulf Research Center

He continued: “US airstrikes deep in Yemen are still limited in nature and intensity and are not an element of threat to Houthi control of the country. For US expansion to be effective, it must attack the entire military, security and political infrastructure of the Houthi regime, which will change the Iranian-Houthi calculations.”

Conditions for ending the naval conflict

The head of the Gulf Research Center spoke about a clear change in the ceiling of the Houthi-Iranian conditions for ending the naval conflict in Yemen, the first condition referring to ending the fighting in Gaza.

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The second condition – according to Bin Sakhr – “is the withdrawal of all US and Western naval vessels from the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea region.” “These are impossible conditions for a large country like the United States,” he said.

The Houthi group claimed responsibility for launching 403 missiles and drones in 96 attacks against cargo and military ships, while the group admitted receiving more than 450 US and British strikes. The United States last December launched an international coalition called “Guardians of Prosperity.” to protect navigation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, before launching its attacks on land starting on January 12 last year.

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