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Airstrikes in Yemen Are ‘Extremely Unlikely’ to Deter Houthis, Experts Say

WorldAirstrikes in Yemen Are ‘Extremely Unlikely’ to Deter Houthis, Experts Say

The American-led airstrikes in Yemen on Friday could play into the agenda of the Houthis, the Iran-backed militia that rules much of northern Yemen, and are unlikely to stop the group’s campaign of attacking commercial ships, scholars who study the group said.

“This was not a miscalculation by the Houthis,” said Hannah Porter, a senior research officer at ARK Group, a British company that works in international development. “This was the goal. They hope to see an expanded regional war, and they are eager to be on the front lines of that war.”

Within hours of the strikes, a senior Houthi official said that the United States and Britain, which joined the strikes along with some other American allies, would soon realize that they had engaged in “the biggest folly in their history.”

“Yemen is not an easy military opponent that can be subdued quickly,” the official, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, said in a post on the social media platform X. “It is ready to enter a long-term battle that will change the direction of the region and the world.”

The war in Gaza has catapulted the Houthis to unlikely prominence. Over the past three months, the militia has shot missiles toward Israel and attacked commercial ships passing through the Red Sea in what they say is an attempt to stop Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

The group has honed its military capabilities through years of civil war. In 2014, the Houthis — who espouse a religious ideology inspired by a sect of Shiite Islam — took over the Yemeni capital, Sana. A Saudi-led coalition launched a military intervention to oust them but failed, deepening one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises while leaving the Houthis in power in northern Yemen. There, they have created an impoverished proto-state that they rule with an iron fist.


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