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The Raider Review

The Raider Review

The Student News Site of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

The Raider Review

The Raider Review

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The Houthi Movement Unveiled: The Strained Relationship with the West

Photo+courtesy+of+The+Guardian
Photo courtesy of The Guardian

As the new year began, the Houthis, Shi rebels backed by Iran, attacked over 60 targets in the Red Sea. On January 11th, the Houthis were attacked by U.S. and British airstrikes in retaliation for previous attacks done on U.S. military and commercial vessels. The reason for the rigorous attacks is the importance of the Red Sea. The Red Sea is used for cargo transport from the Mediterranean Sea and allows for quicker transport from Europe to Asia. The Houthis claim the reason for these attacks is that they were targeting Israeli-owned ships, or any ships related to Israel, but this has been proven otherwise by the attack of cargo ships with no connections to Israel.

Who are the Houthis?

The Houthis are Shi rebels supported by the country of Iran, and they function similarly to other groups in the Middle East. Some of these groups are currently at war with Israel at their respective borders, such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah. All three of these groups have organized hierarchies, facilities for training, and proper funding from other groups and countries, such as Iran. The Houthis are members of a large clan which originated in Northwestern Yemen, where they are present now. A distinctive feature about the Houthis is the practice of the Zaydi form of Islam, which is a branch of the second most popular branch of Islam. In addition to this, Yemen was ruled by Zaydi leaders for nearly a thousand years until being overthrown back in 1962.  Ever since they were overthrown, the Houthis struggled to gain authority and as of 2014, they control a vast percentage of Yemen. 

Previous Conflicts

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The U.S. and its allies have begun retaliating against the Houthis, who were designated as a terrorist organization on January 17, 2024, due to their attacks on civilians. Preceding the current war in Gaza, the Houthis caused a civil war in 2014 by capturing the Yemen capital city, Sana’a, then later capturing the presidential palace in 2015.  This led to government resignation and Sana’a fell into Houthi jurisdiction. In 2016, Houthis-led forces pushed further East to capture the final stronghold of the previous government, in which Saudi-led forces pushed the Houthis back North and West, allowing the borders to stabilize for a few years. In 2021, the Houthis again began to attack the stronghold in the East, and additionally, began to fire airstrikes towards oil tankers in Saudi Arabia. In response, Saudi led forces began to ramp up their forces and began to target the Yemen capital, Sana’a, with airstrikes. From all of these conflicts, an estimated total of 377,000 deaths have occurred in Yemen, the majority caused from indirect conflict, such as lack of basic resources and health assistance. Peace talks between the two countries began during April of 2023 in Oman and China, which eventually led to a ceasefire between the two as of December 23, 2023. 

Concern for the Future

As of January 22nd, 2024, the Pentagon came out with a statement declaring that a total of 25 missile launching facilities in Yemen have been destroyed or seriously damaged during the airstrikes. A total of eight airstrikes have been carried out by the U.S.; two of them a joint operation between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. If this situation in the Middle East continues to escalate, a major war involving the U.S. and other countries in the Middle East could be possible. The rising tension has only been exacerbated by the Iranian proxies attack on the U.S bases on January 29th, 2024. The U.S. hopes to de-escalate the rising tensions in the Middle East, avoiding a regional conflict at all costs. As this is an ongoing conflict, breaking news will be reported as it happens.

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