yemen indian ocean
© The Cradle
Ansarallah has single-handedly disrupted global shipping power dynamics. Yemen is launching attacks against Israeli-linked vessels deep into the Indian Ocean to cut off the last waterway route to the occupation state.
Our people are ready to send hundreds of thousands of mujahideen to Palestine. Okay, geography might pose a problem. It could be a problem for our people to go there in large numbers. Nevertheless, and despite all the obstacles, we will not hesitate to do whatever we can. We are completely coordinated with our brothers in the Jihad and resistance front to do anything and everything that we can do.
- Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, 10 October 2023

Since Abdul-Malik al-Houthi's proclamation three days after the launch of the Palestinian resistance's 7 October Al-Aqsa Flood Operation, Yemen's Ansarallah movement, under his leadership, has undergone a remarkable transformation.

Ansarallah's maritime reach has surpassed all initial expectations, now extending to the distant shores of the Indian Ocean in its ambitious plan to besiege Israel by targeting the occupation state's shipping interests.

Yemen's strategic position not only serves as a beacon of hope for Palestinians enduring Israel's brutal military assault on their lives, homes, and livelihoods but has also become a crucial pillar in the Axis of Resistance's fight against US hegemonic machinations in West Asia.

In late February, al-Houthi vowed to expand the scope of attacks against Israel-linked vessels, stating, "We have surprises that the enemies do not expect at all," before announcing the successful testing of a new hypersonic missile.

This stands in stark contradiction to western narratives trumpeting their own containment efforts to encircle Yemen and thwart its ability to intercept Israel-bound vessels. If anything, the naval operations undertaken by the Ansarallah-aligned armed forces are instead rippling outward, spanning a remarkable distance of over 6,000 kilometers from the Yemeni coast to the Indian Ocean.

Failure of 'Prosperity Guardian'

Crucially, Yemen's defiance has drawn widespread, popular support from its once-warring nationals, not just in support of Gaza and the Israeli blockade but also against the relentless US and British airstrikes launched under the fig leaf of Operation 'Prosperity Guardian' - an extrajudicial imperial project which aims to cripple Ansarallah's military capabilities under the guise of securing international shipping and trade routes.

Yet al-Houthi's unequivocal declaration on barring the passage of ships associated with Israel, or those engaged in commercial ties with it, from traversing the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope shows that Washington and London have been dealt a resounding strategic defeat.

By targeting these two new critical waterway passages, Yemen imposes a new reality on global shipping routes. This phase of the naval battle presents a significant threat to the world's established maritime corridors, compelling commercial vessels traveling to and from Southeast Asia to navigate lengthier and more costly routes around the southern tip of Africa to reach the Mediterranean Sea.
yemen israel shipping africa

Iran's partner, not a proxy

Al-Houthi's message is clear: "Do the Americans, British, and the Zionists expect that any aggressive act against Yemen will distract us from defending Gaza?" Ansarallah recently announced the targeting of over 70 commercial ships with ties to Israel, alongside military battleships across the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.

Moreover, Yemen's stance challenges western reports of secret talks brokered by Oman between the US and Iran, purportedly aimed at containing the conflict, preventing it from spreading further from the 'Yemeni front.'

Despite Washington's announcement that it has released $10 billion in frozen Iranian funds and its ferocious intimidation and enticement maneuvers behind the scenes, Sanaa's strategic move towards the Indian Ocean should dismiss any rumors about an impending 'US-Iran deal.'

Instead of acquiescing to US pressure, Tehran is working to maintain stability and avert all-out war through its 'support fronts' in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. The escalation in Yemen poses a greater regional challenge, overshadowing any temporary truces in Iraq by some factions.

While the Biden administration attempts to portray its diplomatic efforts as successes, particularly through indirect negotiations with Tehran and plans to build a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza, the situation in Yemen remains a humiliating inconvenience for a White House heading into an election cycle. This comes against the backdrop of a White House also frantically trying to manage the Iraqi and Lebanese arenas, which are equally pushing back against US hegemonic interests.

As the spokesman for the Iraqi resistance Al-Nujaba movement, Dr Hussein al-Musawi, tells The Cradle:
Our principles are clear and firm regarding the American presence on Iraqi soil, which is a complete exit without any interference in our political, economic, and other affairs; ending its control over the aspects of Iraq's politics; and liberating its land and wealth; and political and economic independence.
Economic ramifications for Israel

Sanaa's strategic maneuvering in the Red Sea-Gulf of Aden-Indian Ocean corridor not only poses a distraction for US and British naval forces but also presents unforeseen challenges. While US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Israel after announcing his 'Guardian of Prosperity' operation, the Yemeni resistance was busy adding millions of square kilometers to their area of missile confrontation.

The 12 percent of global trade passing through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait has already suffered a blow to the core. The resulting disruptions, including increased shipping costs and insurance premiums, are anticipated to fuel inflation and potentially paralyze Israeli ports such as Eilat and decrease traffic in Haifa.

While the full extent of damage to Israel's foreign trade remains unclear, initial estimates suggested losses exceeding $180 billion, considering pre-existing trade figures from 2022.

Yemen's growing naval capabilities

Simultaneously, the question arises: how will the 'Guardian of Prosperity' forces, previously tasked with monitoring just the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to counter Yemeni missile threats, manage the vast expansion required to monitor the thousands of ships traversing to and from the Cape of Good Hope across the Indian Ocean?

While the US and UK do not reveal the number of naval vessels assigned to their almost impossible mission, numbers circulating claim the participation of several US battleships, including the USS Laboon, USS Carney, and USS Mason - and from the British, the destroyer HM Diamond. Greece is estimated to have one frigate involved, France contributes naval vessels under US command, and Italy claims to have a frigate that operates outside the operation's banner. Although the coalition publicly announced the inclusion of more than twenty countries in its mission, the actual naval commitment from its members appears negligible.

Furthermore, it's hard not to notice the fundamental inefficiencies inherent to the western naval operation: the US "is launching $2 million defense missiles to stop $2,000 Houthi drones." It was no surprise then when a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged a few days ago that despite ongoing western strikes on Yemen, Ansarallah's capabilities have not been undermined.

And then Abdul-Malik al-Houthi comes along and adds the Indian Ocean to the US' horror scenario with an area exceeding 70 million square kilometers.

Ali al-Qahum of Ansarallah's Political Bureau characterizes this expansion as a "shocking and unexpected surprise" for the resistance's adversaries. At the same time, it amplifies Yemen's globally strategic significance as a military force - one that can successfully execute a comprehensive siege on Israel.

It is not clear whether the announcement of including the Indian Ocean in the Yemeni naval operations is related to the tests of the hypersonic missile. It would make Yemen one of only a small handful of nations to possess this unique military capability - Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

Comment: The US is on that list, kinda: US Air Force admits ARRW hypersonic missile test failed

Regardless, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi's ability to take the enemy by surprise showcases Yemen's capacity to disrupt established power dynamics, particularly in the West Asian region. By supporting Gaza unequivocally, the Yemeni front within the Resistance Axis is further diminishing US influence amid the waves of the Indian Ocean, unless a lasting ceasefire is imposed in Gaza.