From Yemen to the high seas: The impact of Houthi activities on regional security and international trade

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This article is featured in Orient III/2024.

Since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas in October 2023, the Houthis of Yemen have launched numerous attacks on civilian and military vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, ostensibly to demand an end to the Israeli operations in the Gaza strip. While the Houthis have already used the Red Sea as an arena of operations in their war against the Saudi-led coalition since 2015, the new attacks constitute greater threats to global trade and international security as they involve indiscriminate attacks against civilian shipping and commercial interests. To understand the causes and consequences of the Red Sea crisis, this study provides a three-level analysis focusing on the ideology and repertoires of the Houthi movement, the context of the Yemen Civil War and how global developments have facilitated these unfortunate outcomes. The article concludes with a critique of the current approaches dealing with the Houthi escalation and proposes a realistic, unified and well-coordinated strategy to contain Houthi threats and mitigate their destructive impact.

Ala Mohsen has a PhD in Political Science, International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Utah, USA, having also worked as a research consultant at the Yemen Policy Center in the areas of due diligence and peace-building. He has contributed to publications including The Journal of the Middle East and Africa and Transformations as well as the book Youth Civic Engagement and Local Peacebuilding in the Middle East and North Africa (Routledge, 2021) and is a member of the American Center for South Yemen Studies.

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