Russia And Yemeni Houthis

Actions of the Yemeni Houthis from the Ansar Allah movement, namely them firing upon the ships sailing through the red Sea, have seen a lot of discussions in various countries. The Houthis themselves say they do that to support Palestine and punish the countries that support Israel. As it stands, they threw the gauntlet to the entire collective West, especially to the EU countries depend on supplies running through the Suez channel.

Meanwhile, the U.S. who have repeatedly used military force to blockade other sovereign countries for their own geopolitical goals, saw it as appropriate to intervene unilaterally. Like the sea trade route problem is an exclusive domain of the U.S. who have the preeminent right to act there as they see fit. Mean while, the U.S. did not even ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, so they are actually outside the international jurisdiction supported by the majority of nations.

That approach demonstrates Washington’s double standards once again: they want to be free of the obligations imposed by adhering to the law, but at the same time, they act as a sole power in the global ocean, and in this case, use military force in violation of other UN conventions.

In January 2024, Russia called for a Security Council meeting due to the U.S. and the UK’s actions against Yemen, but as expected, the U.S. vetoed it right away. Nevertheless, Moscow made its position regarding this conflict very clear. Vasily Nebenzya, permanent Russian representative in the UN, said that Russia categorically condemns the Western aggression against Yemen, carried out without any sanction from the UN Security Council. He added the historical context of Western actions against Arab (and not only Arab) countries, “The aggressive actions of the US and the UK in the Red Sea remind us of the worst times of the barbaric and illegal #NATO bombings of #Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. In the meantime, they shamelessly exploit counter-terrorism narrative and the so-called “right to self-defense”. We categorically condemn the aggression against Yemen, which was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council.”

“It is regrettable that in these circumstances the UN Security Council has so far failed to adopt a single product demanding an end to the violence because of the position of one delegation – the United States, which blocks all efforts and initiatives aimed at putting an end to the bloodshed in the occupied territories and gives Israel carte blanche to proceed with the collective punishment of the Palestinians,” Mr. Nebenzya said, emphasizing the link between Zionist crimes, and their patrons in the U.S. and the UK.

At the same time, the Russian condemnation of the U.S. and Britain does not stem exclusively from the strikes on Yemen. Moscow believes, these strikes cause tensions to rise in the entire region.

And that trend is undeniably worrying for other countries of the Arab Peninsula and Africa. The current confrontation puts the entire region at risk. On top of that, the memory of the Arab coalition’s war against the Houthis is still fresh: the operation led by the Saudis did not achieve its goals. That is why Bahrein was the only Arab country to join the American strikes on the Houthis. Bahrein is different in that it its ruling Sunni dynasty is a U.S. satellite. The country hosts the main naval base for the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Meanwhile, another country that hosts U.S. troops, Qatar, joined Russia in warning against escalation across the entire Middle East, and halted its LNG supplies to Europe through the Suez channel. As for Egypt, the country most affected by the red Sea blockade (the Suez channel traffic dropped off sharply), its government, forgoing any quick solutions, joined the negotiations with the Houthis and Iran, Ansar Allah’s main sponsor. The West keeps accusing Iran of deliberate escalation with the Houthis’ hands. Egypt is also suffering from the endless massacre committed by Israel in Palestine, so the country is in a delicate position. Nevertheless, we can say that positions of the majority of Arab countries regarding Yemen align with the Russian position: whether you like Ansar Allah or not, another military intervention will only bring more problems. What is needed is a political, negotiated solution.

But it looks like the West is going to stick with their extremist strategy, having, apparently, learned nothing from Afghanistan. At the same time, realizing how delicate the situation is, the West is trying to stage information campaigns against Yemen and in support of their next adventure.

The Western mass media are full of panicked claims that the Houthis may cause new and serious problems for Europe and international companies by cutting the undersea communications, on top of blocking passage of ships through the Red Sea.

The thing is, over 90% of online traffic between Europe, East Africa and Asia runs over cables laid at the bottom of the Red Sea. There have already been problems with servicing these optic fiber networks; if the conflict escalates further, those problems will only grow. Even if a cable-laying vessel stays out of the Yemeni waters, it could be targeted during operation, and it would have no way to evade the attack. That is why cable layer operators may decide they would be better off not risking their ships and crews.

But the Houthis can also damage the cables on purpose. They don not even need explosives to do that. All they have to do is throw an anchor from a ship and drag it back and forth over the sea floor in the area where the cables are.

Of course, alternate surface data transfer routes are possible, but not nearly as efficient. They would also have to redirect traffic through other hubs.

So far, Ansar Allah gave no indication they intend to do that, but the Western media hyping up the problem could give them an idea about what they could do if the West keeps on striking Yemen. The Houthis who were sending kamikaze drones to Saudi Arabia’s oil refineries in the past, could see the disruption of undersea communication as a workable option.

What could be the possible consequences of a long-term red Sea blockade? It would drive the margins down for Egypt, Qatar and some major maritime transport companies, depriving them of profits they could earn if the status quo holds. Uncertainty will drive gas and maritime insurance prices up, causing carriers to seek other routes. At the moment, lots of container ships have to go around Africa to deliver their cargo from Europe to Asia and back.

What impact could that have on Russian interests? Although putting a stop to escalation and solving the root issue, the Israeli aggression against Palestine, are, undeniably in the political interest of Moscow, the situation brings Russia extra economic dividends. First, it bring the North Sea Route through the Russian territory to the forefront. Second, it makes the North-South corridor that is just now getting ready for operation (and is, partly, already operational), even more important. Third, it serves to grow the railway freight traffic. CNBC reported earlier that Yemeni attacks against cargo ships in the Red Sea activated alternative routes, such as the China-Europe railway link that runs through the Russian Far East.

Railway transport is cheaper for senders than air transport, and now it also faster than the sea routes. Transit like that can now be done in 14 to 25 days, depending on particulars of the cargo and its destination. Rail Bridge Cargo (the Netherlands) reports that railway transport orders from China to Russia grew 37% in January. They could go up even further. And among the Western economic sanctions, that could be another argument as to why you’d be better off being a friend of Russia than one of the U.S. followers.

One thought on “Russia And Yemeni Houthis

  • Guy St Hilaire

    I am not at all hoping for the undersea cables to be sabotaged but am wondering how this would compare to the sabotage of the natural gas undersea pipelines between Russia and Germany.
    Just saying .


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