“U.S. airstrikes are useless” What will be the end of this ineffective war with the Middle East’s maritime strategic point blocked?

Houthis immediately counterattacked after being attacked by the U.S. and resumed shelling commercial ships heading to the Red Sea.
After failing to suppress the Houthis, the United States is about to re-designate the Houthis as a 'foreign terrorist group'
The longer the war goes on, the more the United States loses; it is time for a clear decision
Photo = Google Map

Tensions in the Red Sea are reaching a peak as Yemen’s pro-Iranian rebels, the Houthis, attack U.S.-flagged ships. The war between Israel and the Palestinian armed faction Hamas appears to be spreading to conflicts in nearby regions. The United States, which directly struck the Houthis three times, began crisis management to prevent an escalation of the war, but the Houthis immediately announced their plan to retaliate and tensions with Iran, an anti-American force in the Middle East, are rising to an unusual level, leading to widespread anxiety in the Middle East.

Will the Houthis be redesignated as a terrorist group after violating the United States?

According to the Associated Press on the 16th (local time), the U.S. Central Command struck and destroyed four anti-ship missiles that the Houthis had prepared for launch in Yemen at around 4:15 a.m. on this day. U.S. military officials explained that this was because the missile posed an immediate threat to U.S. Navy ships and commercial ships. As a result, the U.S. military launched airstrikes on about 4 Houthi strongholds in Yemen on the 11th and continued retaliatory attacks the following day, making this the third airstrike.

However, the Houthis launched a missile attack on the Greek-owned, Maltese-shipped bulk carrier ‘Zografia’ off the coast of Yemen, south of the Red Sea, at around 1:45 p.m., a few hours after the U.S. airstrike. The missile hit the ship, but there were no casualties, and the ship continued to operate. In response, Houthi spokesman Yahya Sari said the attack occurred because the Zografia was heading to an Israeli port, but according to ship tracking site VesselFinder, the ship was sailing through Egypt’s Suez Canal.

As it was not easy to stop the Houthis, the international community began to analyze that the conflict in the Middle East, which began with the war between Israel and Hamas, was likely to develop into an international conflict between the United States and Iran. On the 16th, the CBS broadcast diagnosed, “Given the Houthi rebels’ attacks on merchant ships and pro-Iranian militias continuing to attack U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Syria, the conflict in the Middle East appears to have already gone beyond Israel.” . The US administration of Joe Biden also appears not to let down its guard. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan hinted at the possibility of an escalation of war, saying at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting held in Davos, Switzerland, regarding the escalation of tensions in the Red Sea region, “Allies should prepare for the possibility of taking a path of escalation rather than easing tensions.” I also did it.

In addition, the Associated Press reported that the Biden administration plans to redesignate the Houthi rebels as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and make an official announcement on the 17th. If designated as a terrorist organization, individuals and companies under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government will not be able to provide “material support” to the Houthis, and additional sanctions such as asset freezes and entry restrictions to the U.S. will be imposed.

A maritime strategic point in the Middle East controlled by the Houthis

Meanwhile, the strait controlled by the Houthi rebels is the 35 km wide ‘Bab el Mandeb’ strait at the southern end of the Red Sea. The strait is the only sea route to Egypt’s Suez Canal at the northern end of the Red Sea. Since Asia and Europe are connected by the shortest distance through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea is evaluated as a key point in the international shipping route through which 12% of the world’s maritime oil trade volume and 30% of the world’s container cargo volume pass.

In other words, if the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is blocked by the Houthis, ships will not be able to pass through the Red Sea and will have no choice but to decide to divert ships. In this case, ships must take a detour around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which takes about 10 to 14 days (5,300 km) longer than the Red Sea route, and costs 30 to 50% more fuel, drastically reducing freight economics.

US Navy destroyer ‘Kani’ intercepting missiles and drones fired by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea/Photo = Getty Image Bank

The more the Houthis attack with low-cost drones, the more the United States loses

Meanwhile, Bab el Mandeb is an important strait for the global shipping industry, but due to its narrow width, it has the disadvantage of being controlled with simple weapons. Currently, the Houthis are taking advantage of these characteristics to attack commercial ships passing through the strait with Iranian-made drones worth tens of millions of won. On the other hand, the United States must launch missiles worth billions of won per shot to block Houthi attacks and shoot down drones. The longer the war in the United States progresses, the more cost-ineffective attacks are being carried out, to the point where there are criticisms that the Houthis will inevitably win.

Experts even point out that the Houthis are not an easy opponent because they are supported by Iran. In fact, the Houthis have declared in the past that they are part of the ‘resistance axis’ that stands under the anti-American and anti-Israeli banner led by Iran, along with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad regime in Syria, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Also, in February last year, the British government submitted evidence showing a direct link between the missiles used by the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Iranian authorities. According to the British government at the time, the weapons seized from the Houthis included surface-to-air missiles, engines for surface-to-surface cruise missiles, and commercial quadcopter drones designed for reconnaissance. 

Experts said, “The reason the Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, are able to deal with the United States is because Iran is standing behind them,” and “Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia and the allied forces have carried out airstrikes to drive out the Houthis from Yemen, but they have ultimately failed to annihilate the Houthis. “We must take this into account,” he emphasized. In other words, as the Israel-Hamas war is progressing into a low-intensity, long-term war, there is a strong possibility that the conflict with the Houthis in the Red Sea will also be prolonged. The problem is that the United States’ cost efficiency is significantly lower than that of the Houthis in terms of the so-called ‘unit price of attack’. Accordingly, voices within the United States said, “Not only are civilian merchant ships under constant threat from the Houthis, but there has also been a major disruption in the distribution network in the international community,” and “As billions of won are needed just to prevent Houthi attacks, clear intervention by the United States is necessary.” is also coming out.

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