The Houthis Have Biden By the Shorthairs

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by Mike Whitney, The Unz Review:

“Yemen has said it would stop the blockade of Israel-bound ships as soon as sufficient food, water and medicine are allowed to enter Gaza. Guess that’s asking too much.” Elizabeth Murray@elizabethmurra

Yemen’s Houthi militia has shown how a small army can take on the American Empire and win. They have shown how courage, resolve and commitment to principle can act as a force-multiplier allowing a much weaker military to ‘punch above its weight’. They’ve also shown that a few well-placed missiles in key locations on the world’s most critical shipping lanes, can send tremors across the global economy and shake the “rules-based order” to its foundations. In short, the Houthis have shown that David can bring down Goliath without breaking a sweat, provided that David maintains his perch along the Bab-al-Mandab Strait.

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Here’s what’s going on: The Houthis occupy an area along the narrowest part of the Red Sea that is the most important shipping corridor in the world. It is “responsible for 12% of international trade and almost one-third of global container traffic.” When the movement of ships is disrupted along this waterway, insurance premiums skyrocket, prices on retail merchandise rise, and oil prices go through the roof. That is why western powers are committed to keeping these shipping lanes open at all times whatever the cost. Here’s some background from CNN:

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels are stepping up their strikes on ships in the Red Sea, which they say are revenge against Israel for its military campaign in Gaza.

The attacks have forced some of the world’s biggest shipping and oil companies to suspend transit through one of the world’s most important maritime trade routes, which could potentially cause a shock to the global economy.

The Houthis are believed to have been armed and trained by Iran, and there are fears that their attacks could escalate Israel’s war against Hamas into a wider regional conflict. Who Are The HouthisCNN

At present, these shipping lanes are effectively closed due to Houthis attacks on Israeli-bound vessels. This, in turn, has slowed overall traffic to a crawl. If the current situation persists or gets worse, the impact on the global economy could be catastrophic.

Here’s more from the Washington Post:

On Monday, oil giant BP became the latest company to announce it would be pausing its shipments through the Red Sea. Several shipping companies, including MSC, Maersk, Euronav and the Evergreen Group, have said they are also avoiding the Suez Canal as militants target cargo vessels.

Roughly 10 percent of all maritime oil trade goes through the Red Sea — which connects to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. Without access to the Red Sea route, many ships will have to take the far longer and costlier journey around Africa to reach their destinations….

It urged “the global community to continue to pursue every possible diplomatic effort in support of security in and safe navigation through this region that is vital to international trade.”New U.S.-led Red Sea task force won’t stop shipping attacks, Houthis say, Washington Post

It’s worth noting that the Houthis have repeatedly said that ships that are NOT bound for Israeli ports, will not be attacked. But that has not stopped all of the major shipping companies from rerouting their vessels from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope. This alternate route adds weeks to the sailing time forcing carriers to raise their cargo prices and adjust their schedules. Bottom line: The action of the Houthis is going to further boost inflation in western countries pushing their economies into a sharp and protracted nosedive.

Surprisingly, the Houthis do not stand to gain anything for their efforts. In fact, they are putting themselves at great risk (of retaliation by the United States) in order to pressure Israel into stopping its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip and to allow the starving Palestinian people access to food, water and medical supplies. The Houthis should probably be applauded for their selfless compassion and humanity, but Washington doesn’t see it that way. They don’t think see the Houthis’ action as laudable, virtuous or just. They see it as a challenge to American primacy. They see it as a threat to their regional hegemony and global leadership. They see it as interference in their Gaza policy in which Israel has been granted carte blanche to kill and maim as many Palestinians as it sees fit in order to achieve its own strategic objective, which is Greater Israel. So, what we have is an unstoppable force and an immovable object. We have two opposing points of view, and no way to resolve their differences without a direct military confrontation. That means there’s going to be trouble in the very near future.

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