US and UK attack Houthis in Yemen

In reaction to repeated attacks on trading ships in the Red Sea by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, allegedly carried out in retaliation for the ongoing situation in the Gaza Strip, the US and the UK have launched airstrikes on Houthi positions, with the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain and Australia also forming part of the military alliance. Is the initiative warranted to defend international shipping lanes, or is it playing with fire?

Open/close all quotes
Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Understandable but ineffective

Rzeczpospolita fears that the desired deterrent effect will not materialise:

“The US - and the nine countries that support it, mainly politically, but also militarily - have defended the security of international maritime trade with their attack on the Houthis. And that is understandable. But if this defence is not effective, and so far it just looks like they have only increased the scale of the war in the Middle East. Even though their original aim was precisely the opposite: to prevent the conflict from spreading and escalating.”

The Observer (GB) /

Questionable and dangerous

The Observer is extremely dubious:

“However the world views this action, taken in response to repeated, unprovoked attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, the possible consequences are all the more alarming because they are unknowable and unpredictable. Joe Biden, the US president, and Rishi Sunak have started something they may find difficult to finish. ... The basic problem, however, of which the US and British governments are doubtless aware, is that the military action taken so far may not prove wholly effective. ... Unfair though it may be, the US and Britain, having previously failed to support a Gaza ceasefire, will from now on be viewed in the Muslim world as fighting on Israel's side.”

Unian (UA) /

Iran keeping a low profile for now

Political scientist Iliya Kusa insists in Unian that a regional escalation is unlikely:

“Political scientist Iliya Kusa insists in Unian that a regional escalation is unlikely: The only factor that could lead to that is if, for example, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were to join the US-led coalition. This could increase tension between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia if the former started shelling oil facilities again, as they did a few years ago. In that case, Iran might intervene in the conflict. ... I don't see Iran wanting to get involved in a direct clash with the US and its allies. That would be risky and expensive. ... Iran believes it can achieve its goals by supporting proxy groups.”

El País (ES) /

Europe must show resolve

El País calls on the EU to act:

“This is where the group can demonstrate its willingness and ability to become a geostrategic player that acts according to its values to defend its interests. ... It is entirely possible that within a year an unleashed Donald Trump will probably be back, and then we Europeans will have to learn the hard way what it means to be autonomous. ... The reality is that various EU states have already carried out patrols, including France and Italy. And one of them, the Netherlands, was involved in the attacks. ... Hopefully the EU will soon be able to put up a consistent mission that acts to defend the value of trade without bombings today and leads the way to a more independent, competent and united EU in a turbulent world tomorrow.”

Jornal i (PT) /

US remains the dominant power in the region

Political scientist and security expert Eduardo Caetano de Sousa writes in Jornal i:

“The US has made sure that its armed forces are on high alert in the region by deploying aircraft carriers and taking over the defence of airspace from the sea and land in the areas bordering Israel. In this way, it has taken control of security throughout the Middle East region in a clear show of force. The attacks carried out in the early hours of 12 January by US and British air and naval forces, with the support of other allies, are part of this international context.”