Will US and UK strikes on Houthis in Yemen spread the Gaza conflict in the region?


Mr Bohl noted that neither side has a clear endgame at the moment.

The Houthis were initially looking to goad the coalition into the attacks to get a boost in domestic legitimacy in the northern part of Yemen.

It is hence “very notable” that the western coalition still decided to carry out the strikes despite knowing the Houthis’ domestic political gain, said Mr Bohl.

“But from there, how long the Houthis have that political incentive to keep carrying out maritime attacks and provoking coalition responses, and how long the coalition has the political will to maintain its flotilla in that area and carry out a potentially extended campaign, remains to be seen,” he said.

It would depend heavily on the casualties incurred by either side and also the belief that the other side will be the first to further escalate the conflict, he said.

For the Houthis, such an escalation would be if the West goes after their leadership or disrupts their position and the areas they control, said Mr Bohl. For the West, an escalation would be if the Houthis start targeting oil infrastructure, or oil shipping through the Red Sea or in the Persian Gulf region.

BROADER IMPLICATIONS

Prof Camilleri said that with the latest developments, the Red Sea zone has become an area of conflict which commercial operators would want to avoid, due to the increasingly unpredictable situation.

“Unfortunately, the stated objective of preserving the capacity of commercial shipping to operate in those waters may well in itself be seriously endangered,” he said.



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