As neither military action nor political endeavor is the final solution to the Houthi threats against Israel, Tel Aviv may want to use Riyadh as a puppet to hopefully end the nightmare for the Jewish regime.
Back in mid-November, the Houthis fighters from Yemen entered the war scene between Hamas and Israel by seizing an Israeli-linked cargo ship in a crucial Red Sea.
Since then, Tel Aviv’s calculations of how to handle a one-front war in Gaza has gone drastically wrong and the Yemeni group is now making huge troubles for Israel and its Western allies by making the passage of Israeli ships unsafe in the Read Sea.
Sanction and military action won’t work with Houthis!
Recently, some officials in Washington have been putting pressure on Joe Biden to include Houthis in the list of the US terrorist organizations. But even if the Houthis are included in this list, one should not expect extraordinary results. In other words, the senior members of the Houthis never leave Yemen except for some neighboring and allied countries, and they do not have foreign assets that could be subject to confiscation. In fact, for the Houthis, the move will even give credit to the Houthi organization and signals US fear of them.
Therefore, it is not surprising to expect that such designation of the Houthis can be celebrated as a proof of the victory of the group in Sana’a. To read between the lines, putting the names of the Houthis in this unfamous list can only disrupt the activities of non-governmental organizations that send humanitarian aid to Yemen.
Military attack, which is undoubtedly being evaluated and even planned by the US and Israel, is an equally weak option to deal with the Houthis. This militant group has not only survived the years of attacks carried out by Saudi Arabia and the UAE during their intervention in Yemen, but they have also made significant progress militarily and political.
Of course, before the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the Houthis were declining in terms of internal support, which was due to increase in unemployment, lack of economic opportunities, rising food and soaring energy prices.
Now, however, even the Houthis’ old enemies are supporting their attacks on Israel. Prominent members of the Islah Group, the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is aligned with Yemen’s internationally recognized government, recently met with Houthi officials in Sanaa.
Considering that the Islah group has been involved in deadly battles with the Houthis since 2015, this meeting has messages to ponder. This means that the Houthis now enjoy good popular support in Yemen, which makes military action against them more difficult. Not to mention that fact that the group has lots of advanced missiles and drones than can even reach Israel.
Israel may use Saudi Arabia to end the threat of Houthis
Israel believes that Saudi Arabia has now reached a position, both economically and politically, where it can act as a mediator and save Tel Aviv from the Houthis. It also thinks that the recent agreement between Riyadh and Tehran can somehow reduce the threat of Iran’s response to the pressure on the Houthis. The Saudi practice in dealing with the Houthis has also been friendly in recent months, and all these developments have made Saudi Arabia the best option for Israel to silence the threat of the Houthis in a way other than by means of war and escalating tensions.
Israel may want Saudi Arabia to moderate the behavior of the Houthis by introducing the security issue of the Red Sea into its peace talks with the militia group. But even if Saudi Arabia finally agree to do such a thing for Israel, we should wait and see what Riyadh would ask from Washington and Tel Aviv in exchange.