by Austin Bay
November 22, 2023
Yemen's complex nest of wars is a hideous but representative example of a bloody, chaotic tragedy exploited by a would-be great power, in this case, ayatollah Iran's Shia Islamic revolutionary dictatorship.
Iran and al-Qaida -- yes, al-Qaida is still there -- both use chaotic Yemen as a base for violent and criminal operations throughout the Arabian Peninsula, along Africa's Red Sea littoral and now on attacks on Sinai and the eastern Mediterranean. If Tel Aviv is in range, so is Cairo.
For Iran, Yemen's instability provides a type of plausible deniability. The ayatollah regime can blame its terror attacks, assassinations, raids on shipping, and missile and drone strikes on indigenous Yemeni insurgents, primarily the Houthis -- a Shia group from northwestern Yemen that controls the capital, Sana, and the major port city, Hodeida.
Which brings us to the Houthis' war at sea.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, the commercial ship Galaxy Leader made an unscheduled stop at Hodeida after heli-borne Houthi raiders seized the vessel in the Red Sea about 50 miles west of the port as it was en route from Turkey to India.
"Houthi pirates" is more accurate than raiders, but that said, the Hollywood-level video their camera crew took brings "commando" to mind.
Oh yes, the Houthis landed with cameras. AK-assault-rifle-armed Houthis rappel from a Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter onto the Galaxy Leader's deck. They race quickly to subdue the crew.
Though these scoundrels aren't quite as slick as U.S. Navy SEALs or Royal Marines, they've been training. Trained by whom? Iran's Al Quds Force special operations personnel. Al Quds is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) elite arm. It controls Iran's international covert and proxy warfare operations and oversees ballistic missile units.
More on the missile operations in a moment.
The Galaxy Legend incident is similar to ship seizure operations the IRGC has conducted in the Persian Gulf. As the ship headed for shore a flotilla of small speedboats provided escort. Swarming speedboats is a signature Iranian tactic.
Two wire services reported the Houthis wore headbands invoking Hamas' eternally repugnant Oct. 7 Al Aqsa Flood massacre. They later ran Yemeni and Palestinian flags up the mast.
The ship seizure is first and foremost an attack on international commerce and hence an attack on international law and order. Yes, it's piracy, terrorist piracy, and therefore cannot be ignored.
However, the Hamas supplications are not incidental facts. The ship seizure and its Hollywood video advertisement are also propaganda by deed.
So were Hamas' Oct. 7 massacres of Israeli babies and rapes of Israeli women, and the psychopathic videos of those atrocities Hamas terrorists recorded for global distribution.
The Houthis claim the Bahamian-flagged Galaxy Leader is an Israeli ship. An Israeli billionaire has an interest, but the Israel connection is tenuous. A Japanese company operates the vessel. Its ownership is British registered.
Tenuous, however, was enough for Iran to pull the Houthi Red Sea trigger.
Trigger it is. Yemen lies on the eastern side of the Bab el-Mandeb (Gateway of Anguish), the strait connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Threaten ships in the Red Sea and oil prices may rise, but the price of maritime insurance will definitely spike and raise the cost of imported goods.
The Red Sea southern front incident isn't an isolated attack. On Nov. 20, Hezbollah escalated rocket, drone, artillery fire and missile attacks on Israel's northern front (Lebanon-Syria).
Houthis have launched -- with Al Quds oversight-- missile and drone attacks on Israel. Debris has hit two Egyptian Sinai towns. So far, the Southern Front missile attacks have failed.
Iran, however, is deploying improved ballistic missiles. On Nov. 9 an Israeli Arrow-3 anti-missile missile intercepted an Iranian missile over the Red Sea -- a missile fired from Yemen. The Arrow-3 has anti-ICBM capabilities. Was the Nov. 9 interception a test under duress?
Destroying Hamas is the Israeli army's first objective. Hezbollah in Lebanon is an enemy on the border. Chaotic Yemen may be distant -- however, it is also a dangerous front.