‘Americans will lose’: What Yemenis think about the war with the US
Yemen has been living in a state of war since 2015, when an Arab alliance backed by the West attacked the country in a bid to oust Houthi rebels, who they considered radicals loyal to Iran. Although a truce between the warring sides was put in place last September, tensions in the region are high again. And a Yemenite political analyst says this is because of Israel and its allies’ actions in Gaza.
Hussein Al Bukhaiti, a Sanaa-based political analyst, was not taken aback when the United States – together with a number of regional and international players – launched a series on attacks on Yemen last Friday.
The assaults were carried out by US and British warplanes, submarines and ships. They targeted the military infrastructure of the Houthis, an Islamic group that controls most parts of Yemen and has links to Iran, which means it is considered radical by the West.
The Western attacks came in retaliation for months of what they see as Houthi harassment of vessels that go through Bab Al Mandab, narrow straits that link the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. Houthi assaults have had a negative impact on trade in the region. They pushed up prices on goods because shipping companies refused to sail in the area, and this is what the US has vowed to change.
But Al Bukhaiti is certain that the reason for the Western assault was not connected to economy.
"The US and its allies started a new war simply because they want Israel to continue their massacre and the mass killing of the Palestinian people. They cannot allow a situation where the results of that [Israeli-Palestinian] war can be altered."
Israel has been waging a war on the militants of Gaza since October 7, 2023, when thousands of terrorists infiltrated Israeli southern communities, massacring over 1,400 people and wounding more than 5,000. In the past 100 days of the conflict, and as part of its efforts to eliminate Hamas and other Islamic groups, Israel has destroyed multiple military sites belonging to the Palestinian factions. It has also reportedly killed more than 9,000 of their fighters. But it has also claimed the lives of more than 23,000 civilians and has created a deep humanitarian crisis.
According to estimates, a quarter of Gaza's 2.2 million population is starving. Most don't have access to fresh water, with only 4% of it deemed drinkable. Basic hygiene products are also absent; medications and vital medical services are out of reach.
Al Bukhaiti says his country could not stand idly by, "watching these atrocities." This is why they decided to intervene for the sake of the Palestinian people.
"A lot of people ask me, why we needed to interfere into a crisis that takes place thousands of miles away from our border. But let me tell you: In 1939, Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany for invading Poland, even though that country was miles away from London," said the analyst.
"It doesn't matter how remote the state is. What matters is the principle. We couldn't lose our dignity and moral standing by simply sitting down and watching the tragedy in Gaza unfolding," he added.
However, that decision to assist the Palestinians might cost the Houthis dearly. Since 2015, when the group established its control over northern Yemen, a coalition of Arab states headed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been waging war against them. The aim was to oust the Houthis out because they were perceived as radicals and as loyalists of Iran, Riyadh's main rival.
Up until 2021, that conflict has claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people. Over 200,000 others have died from hunger and the spread of diseases, a direct outcome of that war.
Last September, the warring parties finally agreed to lay down arms, paving the way for a potential long-term truce. But the rounds of Western attacks on Yemen risk plunging the country, and the entire area, into yet another bloody conflict, warns Al Bukhaiti.
"I am sure the American aggression will not be unanswered," said the analyst on Monday morning. "We will go down in history textbooks as a nation who sank or damaged an American vessel for the first time since World War II," he added.
Hours later, on Monday night, the Houthis did just that. According to reports, the rebels struck the US-owned and operated dry bulk ship Gibraltar Eagle with an anti-ship ballistic missile, although no casualties have been reported.
Yahya Sare'e, the spokesman of the Yemeni armed forces, has reiterated that the response to the American and British attacks was "unavoidable" and that no future attack would go "unpunished."
"A war in the region is just a matter of time. But the ones who will lose from this war is the US and the UK. For years, Yemen has been known as the graveyard for invaders, and history will repeat itself."
Yet, Al Bukhaiti believes it is still possible to ease tensions and prevent a major conflict. But for that to happen, he says, two conditions should be met.
The first one is that the West should "leave the area and stop spreading chaos in the region." The second is that Israel should cease its aggression in Gaza.
"Our demand is simple: the blockade of Gaza should be lifted. Food, water, fuel and medications should be allowed in. This has been the demand of various NGOs and human rights groups. This is what the demonstrators around the world has been protesting about.
"But the Western governments don't want to listen to the calls of the public. They have proven that they are tyrants, not democrats. And until they change their stance, Yemen will continue fighting. No doubt about that," Al Bukhaiti concludes.