By Abayomi Azikiwe
Since the escalation of the liberation war in Palestine in the aftermath of the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Storm on October 7, Washington and London have stepped up their support for the State of Israel.
More than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), armed and coordinated by the United States, Britain and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states, have bombarded the civilian population while at the same time imposing a total blockade denying the right of the Palestinian people to water, food, education, medical care, housing and other necessities of life.
This level of military aggression by the IDF has prompted solidarity actions throughout the region and the world. Mass demonstrations, the severing of diplomatic relations by sympathetic states and attacks upon Israeli and U.S. bases in West Asia have continued despite efforts on the part of Washington, Tel Aviv and London to delegitimize opposition to the genocide in Gaza.
The resistance movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have engaged in military operations against IDF and Pentagon forces despite threats from the settler-colonial state and their principal allies in the U.S. government. While on the battlefield in Gaza, the Al-Qassam, Al-Quds and other brigades representing the oppressed people have inflicted casualties on IDF units in defiance of the intensive bombing and shelling of neighborhoods in cities, towns and villages throughout the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip.
Although the most severe military assaults and blockades have been carried out in Gaza, the West Bank has suffered drone attacks, raids upon communities, arbitrary arrests and killings of those labeled as “terrorists.” European settlers armed by the Israeli state are escalating their murderous assaults upon Palestinian communities in the ongoing attempts to drive them completely out of their homeland.
Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) Imposes Blockade on Israeli Ports Demanding an End to the Siege on Gaza
Yemen, which is strategically located in the southern Arabian Peninsula, has posed a monumental challenge to Tel Aviv and Washington. The Ansar Allah resistance movement, which controls large swaths of territory in Yemen, has set out to enforce a people’s blockade of Israeli ports by intercepting shipping vessels owned by Tel Aviv or linked to its economic interests.
The Ansar Allah has pledged to maintain this blockade until Tel Aviv and its allies in Washington halt the genocidal war in the Gaza Strip. U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered his administration functionaries to oppose the call for a ceasefire within all international fora along any efforts to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
In their defense of the State of Israel, the U.S. has taken the lead once again by announcing what they have described as “Operation Prosperity Guardian”, ostensibly designed to keep the waterways and shipping lanes open to commerce in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden. This U.S. military operation claims to have united dozens of other states committed to halting the Yemeni resistance from its solidarity efforts with the people of Gaza.
However, it is quite obvious that other than the British government, the actual military assaults on Yemen are the responsibility of London and Washington. A series of bombing campaigns have struck Yemen ports and other infrastructure to “degrade” their military capability.
On January 25, the satellite television network Al Mayadeen, gave an update on the situation in the Red Sea area saying:
“The spokesperson of the Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said that there was a confrontation today with several American destroyers and warships in the Gulf of Aden and the Strait Bab el-Mandeb. Saree confirmed that the results of the confrontation included ‘directly hitting an American warship and forcing two American merchant ships to retreat and return.’ The Yemeni armed forces employed ‘a number of ballistic missiles’ in the operation that lasted for more than two hours, Saree revealed. He added that during the confrontation ‘a number of our ballistic missiles reached their targets, despite the attempts of the warships to intercept them.’ He emphasized that the Yemeni Armed Forces continue to enforce a blockade on Israeli navigation in the Red Sea: preventing Israeli ships and Israel-bound ships from reaching the ports of occupied Palestine until the aggression on Gaza stops and the blockade is lifted.”
In addition to this incident on January 25, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO), reported an explosion in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait which was a cause for concern for major shipping firms which frequents the area. The military operations by the YAF have forced numerous commercial interests to redirect their transport routes away from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, making it much more expensive to conduct trade.
This same Al Mayadeen report notes:
“The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported on Wednesday (Jan. 24) that it had been notified of an incident off the Yemeni coast in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, with reports of explosions approximately 100 meters off the vessel’s starboard but with no reports of injuries or damage. ‘UKMTO has received a report of an incident 50 NM South of Al Mukha, Yemen (please note updated position). Master reports an explosion approximately 100 meters from the vessel on its starboard side. The vessel and crew are safe, and no injuries or damage were reported. Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO,’ the note reads. Maersk Shipping Company said that two ships flying the US flag sailed away from the Bab el-Mandab Strait today after nearby explosions.”
Even though the Biden administration has apportioned blame upon the Yemeni resistance for the expansion of the war into the Red Sea area, the Ansar Allah leadership has placed the responsibility for the regionalization of the conflict squarely upon the U.S. and its allies. The aerial strikes by the Pentagon and the Royal Air Force (RAF) have not deterred the YAF from its commitment to ending the siege of Gaza.
Another article published by Al Mayadeen, which featured an interview with the leader of the Ansar Allah movement, Sayyed al-Houthi, says that:
“It is worth noting that Sayyed al-Houthi’s statements coincide with a months-long effective Naval campaign launched by the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF), aiming at pressuring the Israeli occupation to lift its siege on the Gaza Strip and allow humanitarian aid in. The Biden administration in Washington has opted to support the Israeli occupation’s genocidal war on Palestinians and launched at least eight strikes on Yemen. In this context, Sayyed al-Houthi said, ‘While the Americans fight for the supplies to reach the Israelis, they prevent food and medicine from reaching Gaza,’ pointing out that ‘[Washington] is the one behind the continuation of Zionist crimes and behind [the incompetence of international organizations].’ The U.S. ‘contributes directly to starving the Palestinian people, causing them to die of hunger, not only with the bombs [it provides the Israeli occupation forces with] to kill them.’”
Since the launching of the Pentagon-led “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” the U.S. has admitted the deaths of two Pentagon Navy SEALs off the coast of Somalia. These Navy SEALs, according to the White House, were attempting to seize Iranian weapons from a vessel headed towards Yemen.
Although the veracity of this explanation in the deaths of these military operatives remains questionable, it represents an indication of the heightening tensions in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden areas. The Biden administration, facing a reelection bid later in November, could easily lose the presidency due to the U.S. position on Palestine and the entire West Asia region.
Shelling of Pentagon Bases by Resistance Forces Prompts Discussions About Possible Withdrawal from Iraq and Syria
More than two decades after the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, the current government in Baghdad has repeatedly demanded the evacuation of Pentagon forces from the country. In neighboring Syria, the Pentagon has occupied the oil-producing areas of Syria in the northeast for the last decade.
Neither of these states asked Washington to intervene. These military occupations are designed for the protection of U.S. interests, the fortification of the settler-colonial regime in Tel Aviv, along with the theft of oil resources.
However, many observers remain skeptical over these leaked reports. These news articles suggesting possible negotiations with the Iraq government over a potential partial withdrawal are by no means a new phenomenon.
Successive White House administrations have declared the end of the Iraq war and the occupation of eastern Syria. However, Pentagon troops remain in the region while there is an escalation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
In all likelihood the end of the U.S. occupations in West Asia will be propelled by the military defeat of its forces. As in Vietnam and Afghanistan, when the domestic opinion turns completely against the wars and the Pentagon cannot see a clear path to victory, these geo-political regions will gain freedom from imperialist occupation.