It’s been over three months since the Zionist state of Israel launched a genocidal war on the people of Gaza. This conflict has caused regional tensions to escalate as Israel has also bombed Syria and Lebanon, including Beirut where the Israeli Defense Force has killed both a Hamas and a Hezbollah leader in recent days. On January 11, the conflict escalated with a bombing campaign by the United States and the United Kingdom (together with the governments of the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Bahrain) on the shores of the Red Sea in Yemen.
Yemen’s Houthis, a Shia militia group that’s close to Iran, have been attacking the Red Sea shipping lanes for weeks in response to Israel’s war on Gaza. The actions carried out by the Houthis had effectively caused weeks of shipping delays as ships had to take alternative routes to the Red Sea. The Houthis even attacked British and American warships in the region, events which were used as an excuse by Biden to launch this Friday’s bombings.
The Houthis have warned that they will continue to attack and turn back ships in the Red Sea until Israel agrees to a ceasefire with Gaza. An example of the impact that these actions are having is the decision made by Maersk, the Danish shipping and logistics company, which announced that it would pause all vessels bound for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in light of the attacks. While the politics of the Houthis are that of radical Islam and, consequently, doesn’t have a regional socialist program for the liberation of Palestine, these attacks from the Houthis nonetheless represent a direct challenge to the profits of the imperialist powers and meaningfully harm Israel’s economic power in a moment when both the Zionist state and the United States are weakened internationally.
The devastation unleashed by Israel is becoming increasingly clear. Since October 7, more than 23,000 Palestinians, around 40 percent of whom were children, have been killed by Israel, and more than 60,000 wounded. Thousands are still missing under the rubble. Meanwhile, air and ground attacks have continued throughout the Strip, including in the south, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people have been sent to seek safety, only to be faced with more bombings, homelessness, and hunger.
This carnage at the hands of the Zionist state has kicked off an international movement for Palestine which has forced several previous allies of Israel — like France — to begin calling for a ceasefire. This has left the United States, as Israel’s biggest supporter, isolated and exposed as the genocide supporting imperialist warmonger it is. Indeed, the U.S. has not intervened to do anything to stop or even limit the massacre, but has rather provided unqualified military and economic support since day one.
But now, the U.S. and its allies’ interests are being disrupted in the Red Sea by the Houthis and the imperialist powers are responding with full force. It’s clear that for U.S. imperialism, profits matter more than Palestinians’ lives. In the name of protecting what the White House called “freedom of navigation” and “the free flow of international commerce,” the United States began to threaten Yemen and finally this Friday carried out attacks on the country together with UK bombers.
Despite the U.S. strikes, the Houthis vowed to continue their attacks in the Red Sea and called on Friday for mass demonstrations in Yemen against the coalition led by Biden and against Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people.
For years, Yemen has been attacked by a coalition of the United States and Saudi Arabia (Iran’s enemy in the region) to the point of provoking one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the Middle East. In 2022, an informal truce was reached after the U.S.-Saudi Arabia coalition had been defeated. This fragile truce was broken again in the last 24 hours.
But, Friday’s actions go a step further: the United States has now become militarily involved in Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza in a way it has not before, threatening to extend the conflict far beyond Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already announced his intention to extend operations to Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Turkey “if necessary.” The recent attack on Beirut is the first Israeli attack on Lebanon since 2006. In other words, the Israeli government is escalating tensions throughout the region and seems willing to risk the expansion of the war to other countries in the Middle East. The U.S. has been playing the role of moderator, attempting to prevent a broader regional conflict without stepping on Israel’s toes but now, Biden himself has escalated the conflict and gotten the U.S. directly involved militarily in the region.
Within a few hours, China, Russia, and Turkey had repudiated the strikes on Yemen, while most of the Arab countries, whose leaders U.S. and UK Attack Yemen Rebels in Defense of Israel’s Ongoing Genocide in Gaza have been looking the other way in the face of the Israeli massacre, do not want a new spark to ignite a fire in the entire region.
As the New York Times notes:
Some American allies in the Middle East, including Gulf nations such as Qatar and Oman, had expressed concern that the attacks against the Houthis could spiral out of control and drag the region into a wider war with other Iranian proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or Tehran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq.
Israel’s brutal genocide against the Palestinian people, which is being seen around the world, has provoked a wave of outrage and revitalized a movement of support for the Palestinian people the likes of which has not been seen for decades. One hundred days after the start of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, there are calls for mobilizations around the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people and there are already calls to stop the attacks on Yemen, demanding that the United States, UK, and their allies leave the Middle East.
The struggle against the Zionist offensive against Gaza and the West Bank is also part of avoiding a new generalized war in the Middle East in the hands of imperialism allied to Israel. There is an urgent need to involve the labor movement and trade unions against the Zionist and imperialist offensive in the Middle East, and avoid new massacres.