The Middle East Hamas-Israel military conflict, obviously, would not have taken so many months of bloody fighting if interested external forces had not taken part in it. While Israel is patronized by the United States and Europe, Hamas finds support among Arab countries, Iran and Turkey.
The international community is increasingly condemning the Israel Defense Forces’ disproportionate strikes on the Palestinian enclave in Gaza, which is reflected in the voting process at the UN General Assembly. In addition, key global players such as Russia and China also condemn the West’s irresponsible patronage of Israel’s brutal actions in Gaza, which have long gone beyond self-defense and mixed terrorism with military actions against civilians.
From the first days of this conflict, Washington provided large-scale financial, diplomatic, military and military-technical support to Tel Aviv. The United States has dispatched two aircraft carrier strike groups to the eastern Mediterranean, mobilized the 6th and 5th fleets of the US Navy, as well as its military bases and facilities located in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Bahrain, UAE, KSA, and Jordan).
However, an additional threat to the Israeli army and American military facilities in the region is created mainly by pro-Iranian military groups (primarily the Lebanese Hezbollah in the north and the Yemeni Houthis in the south of Israel). Blocking the channel for the transfer of weapons from Iran to Lebanon for Hezbollah combat units is one of the tasks of American military bases in Syria. However, the Americans have not yet managed to resolve this issue.
Israel, for its part, is trying to deprive Iran of the possibility of supplying weapons to the Syrians and Lebanese Shiites with air attacks on civilian airfields in Damascus and Aleppo. However, the regional Russian-Iranian partnership deprives American-Israeli authorities of such prospects. Moscow can provide its logistics capabilities to the Iranians (including the IRGC) using the Khmeimim air base in Latakia. Israel should think twice or more before taking the irresponsible step of launching airstrikes against a Russian air base in Syria.
The transfer of two American aircraft carrier strike groups to the eastern Mediterranean provoked a proper response from the Russian side. Thus, Russian supersonic and all-weather MiG-31K fighters equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles began to patrol the international airspace over the Black Sea (the missile’s flight time to the Mediterranean Sea is 6 minutes).
The United States and Israel are facing a new headache in the form of maritime attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden against Israeli and American merchant ships.
The Houthis, being pro-Iranian forces and supporters of Hamas in the conflict with Israel, approached Saudi Arabia and the UAE in November with a proposal to allow their groups to pass through their territories to enter Israel and participate in hostilities on the side of Hamas. However, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi refused to provide such an opportunity to the Houthis, otherwise this would become their complicity in a military conflict against Israel with consequences from US authorities.
As a result, the Houthis, due to the lack of spatial communication with Israel, began to use naval tactics of subversion against Israel and the United States instead of a ground operation. In particular, Yemeni rebels began to attack and seize merchant ships by keeping the forces and resources of the Zionist regime and their patrons occupied.
These Houthi actions have actually stopped the continued flow of maritime traffic in the Red Sea: oil tankers are idle and container ships are changing routes around Africa. Accordingly, Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas poses a threat to undermine the global economy (primarily, it threatens the interests of the West itself, which supports Israel’s war until the final destruction of the Palestinian enclave).
The paradox is that, according to some foreign experts (for example, Pepe Escobar), the economic justification for this military conflict and Israel’s plans for the mass destruction of the Palestinian enclave and the eviction of Arabs is associated with the exploitation of newly discovered rich gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean with access directly to the Gaza Strip. Another economic reason for this conflict is the establishment of control over a possible international transport corridor from India through the Arab countries (UAE and KSA) and Israel to Europe.
Today, however, Israel and the United States are themselves faced with economic threats in the Middle East. We are talking not only about the Red Sea but also about the Strait of Aden. The next global threat to the interests of the US, UK, EU and Israel could be a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a significant part of the world trade in oil and liquefied gas passes. Such a disaster in global energy markets could occur if Iran and Oman block the Strait of Hormuz. The 2022 Tanker War in the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman between the IRGC Navy and the US Navy’s 5th Fleet have illustrated the seriousness of such an unfavorable prospect.
The practically free navigation of merchant ships through the Suez Canal is now paralyzed, with many merchant ships avoiding the Yemeni coast for fear of attacks by the Houthis. In this regard, Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin announced on December 18, 2023 that the United States was launching Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect shipping in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from Houthi naval attacks. The American initiative was joined by: Great Britain, France, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Bahrain. An international naval task force is being created to repel attacks on merchant ships in a given water area. According to Pentagon Chief L. Austin, “this is an international challenge that demands collective action.”
In turn, Russia, as a responsible international actor, offers merchant ships wishing to restructure their route due to the Middle East military crisis (including attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea) to pass through the Northern Sea Route, subject to compliance with the requirements of the Polar Code and the relevant provisions of Russian legislation. This was stated, in particular, by Ambassador-at-Large Nikolay Korchunov. It is worth noting that today, Russia is the only country in the world with the largest and most powerful nuclear icebreakers that provide traffic through the Northern Sea Route.
For the 12th time in two years of the Russian-Ukrainian military-political crisis that has been ongoing through its own fault, the West has announced tough economic sanctions (and, in fact, is waging an economic war). Russia, being a responsible state, in the context of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli war, which arose again due to the fault of the United States and its NATO countries, offers to maintain stability in world markets and an alternative route for the traffic of merchant ships through the Northern Sea Route controlled by the Russian Federation.
It was time for Americans to abandon their irresponsible and unpromising anti-Russian strategy, lift sanctions against our country, return Ukraine to the negotiating table, complete all financial and military-technical assistance to the Kiev and Zionist regimes, approve the formation of a Palestinian state, restore peace and share responsibility with Russia and China for global security and the new world order. But the United States continues to create new military coalitions and hopes to impose its own rules on everyone.
Yemen’s Houthis have shown only a small portion of the serious problems that can befall the policies of American hegemony. Dragging the U.S. into the hot phase of the Middle East conflict could lead to the expansion of the “axis of resistance” on the part of pro-Palestinian forces in the region, and China and Russia could have their say.
Aleksandr SVARANTS, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor, exclusively for the internet journal “New Eastern Outlook”.