Joint statement of classconscious.org and the Liaison Committee of the Fourth International (LCFI)
The US is trying to protect the genocide carried out by Israel against the Palestinians by threatening to include Yemen in the massacre through Operation Prosperity Guardian. And what is the crime of the Yemenis? Standing up actively, courageously and militarily in defence of the Palestinians, which is what all lovers of humanity and defenders of innocent lives should do at this moment. Since the beginning of the massacre in Gaza, the largest and fastest extermination of civilians and children since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Yemeni guerrillas have been attacking ships serving Israel in the Red Sea, an operation that, however heroic it may be, is nowhere near as effective as the criminal blockade imposed by Israel against the Palestinian population.
As Communists and proletarian internationalists, we salute the armed action of the Ansarallah (supporters of God) movement, better known as the Houthi, which holds power in much of Yemen, for instituting an armed blockade of Israel by seizing and attacking Israeli-owned shipping, and now threatening the same against all Israel-bound maritime traffic. The motive for this is completely straightforward and laudable, as they told Al Jazeera:
“If Gaza does not receive the food and medicines it needs, all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces.”https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/9/yemens-houthis-warn-they-will-target-all-israel-bound-ships-in-red-sea
This has already been delivered to a considerable extent. It has caused big problems for major shipping lines, many of whom use the Red Sea, where 10% of world trade (https://www.infomoney.com.br/mundo/risco-de-ataques-faz-bp-redirecionar-transporte-maritimo-e-evitar-o-mar-vermelho/) is carried out, to supply Israel, and to and pass through the Suez Canal to other destinations. Up to 11 of them have suspended their use of the Red Sea route. According to the International Business Times:
“Shipping firms MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM and Haag-Lloyd and have all suspended operations, already diverting over $35 billion in Red Sea cargo. At least 103 ships have been redirected from the Red Sea this week, adding thousands of miles around the Cape of Good Hope to voyages and complicating last-minute holiday shipments between Asia and Europe.
Oil major British Petroleum (BP) announced Monday that it has paused all shipments through the Suez Canal due to ‘deteriorating security’; Equinor told CNBC on Monday that it had rerouted a number of oil and gas shipments but had yet to take a decision on pausing future ones.”https://www.ibtimes.com/oil-prices-rebound-after-houthi-attacks-red-sea-bp-equinor-pause-shipping-through-suez-3721010
This has cost Israel billions of dollars already, and is both a military and a financial pressure. It has also raised the price of oil internationally, and could conceivably result in a new burst of global inflation. Yet this is not the Houthi’s doing – they are simply fighting for basic humanity, as they see it, in part driven by humane motives derived from their form of Shi’a Islam. The Houthi have made clear that they are not targeting shipping generally, but only Israeli shipping in response to the genocidal mass murder currently going on in Gaza and Palestine. They have explicitly stated that their particular aim is “complete closure of the shipping route for any vessels destined to dock at the port of Eilat” (https://swentr.site/news/589534-us-israel-gaza-houthis/).
Outside of that context, they have been conciliatory. They told Al Jazeera that they would halt their attacks if Israel’s “crimes in Gaza stop and food, medicines and fuel are allowed to reach its besieged population.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/19/yemens-houthis-will-not-stop-red-sea-attacks-until-israel-stops-gaza-war) They are pointedly not targeting non-Israeli shipping, and have made that particularly clear regarding Russian maritime traffic. As with Gaza, it is the US that is insisting on escalating this situation.
The Biden administration has put together a supposed ‘international coalition’ of ‘partners’ who are supposed to send naval forces to threaten the Houthi and ostensibly safeguard maritime traffic. Its title, Operation Prosperity Guardian, actually indicates the callous and genocidal nature of the threats against Yemen in support of the holocaust of Palestinians in Gaza. For the Biden administration, like the Zionists, the Palestinian victims of genocide are untermenschen. (subhuman). What counts is ‘prosperity’, i.e., the profits of imperialist capital. Rarely has the ideological link between profits and genocide been laid out so baldly by a US imperialist administration which has claimed in the past to be motivated by ‘liberal’ and ‘humanitarian’ motives in its armed actions. That pretence is now utterly destroyed by the US’ open support for the genocide in Gaza.
The supposed ‘coalition of the willing’ that the US has put together to face down the Houthi, has not proved very willing at all. The US hoped that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt would join with them in this, but all three have refused to get involved. That is a major blow to its credibility. Spain’s government has said it is thinking with the “utmost prudence” before deciding whether to join the coalition. Australia opted to send a small number of troops to support the operation, rather than send a warship, as initially requested by the US.
The only Gulf State that is part of it is Bahrain, whose population is mainly Shi’a but whose sectarian royal elite are Sunni – and extremely repressive to, and at war with, Bahrain’s 70% Shi’a majority. Saudi Arabia, as a close US and Israeli ally over the last decades, itself fought a near-genocidal war, supplied by both the US and Israel – and failed to dislodge the Houthi, whose base of support in Yemen is deep-going and proved unbreakable. It became clear in that conflict, that if it had gone on, the Houthi had the armed capacity to destroy Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. So, the Houthi are not exactly scared of US imperialism, and are confident that if attacked they will inflict similar defeats on them.
The refusal of Saudi/UAE/Egypt to get involved is a serious blow to the US, they were all were formerly staunch client states. The failure of the US-led proxy war to defeat Russia in Ukraine has produced a major shift in geopolitics. One manifestation of that is the Saudi-Iran rapprochement in early 2023, brokered by China, which seems to have begun a chain of events leading to Saudi, the UAE and Egypt (along with Iran itself) agreeing to join BRICS, which will formally take place on Jan 1st 2024. Fear of the Houthi, as well as this shift against the US internationally seem to have combined with the extremely negative impact of the US support for genocide in Gaza and the huge wave of rage in the Global South at this, causing the US-led anti-Houthi coalition to substantially collapse pretty much before it has got off the ground. As Sputnik reported:
“…apart from the ships of US Task Force 153, which includes between three and five US destroyers, the British HMS Diamond missile destroyer and a Greek Navy frigate, the coalition is shaping up to include only a handful of troops from US-allied countries, including the Netherlands (which is sending two officers), Norway (10 officers), Australia (11 troops), Canada (three officers), and Denmark (one officer). France and Italy have each indicated that any naval forces they have in the region will remain under national command, while Spain said it will not take part in any military operation unless it is under the direction of NATO or the EU.”https://sputnikglobe.com/20231223/houthis-brush-off-us-threats-vow-to-intensify-anti-israeli-ops-if-gaza-conflict-not-halted-1115767590.html
This is not a formidable force, and will not have the Houthi quaking in their boots at the power of the US-led coalition. In any case, as internationalist communists and defenders of the very lives, as well as the elementary rights of Palestinians, Yemenis, and all the peoples of the Middle East, the defeat of Israel and the US, and the victory of the Palestinian and Yemeni forces fighting against them, is very much in the interest of the world working class. It is that which we as communists stand for, as part of our fight for world socialist revolution.