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Addressing the Houthi threat and the Ethiopian dam issue

Suleiman Judeh

Published: Updated:

We would be mistaken if we believe that Saudi Arabia is the only country attacked by the missiles and explosive drones launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia targeting Saudi civilians day after day.

We would be sorely mistaken if we believe that the Houthis’ aggression stops there. It is important to remember that the Houthis’ hostilities run rampant in Yemen as well, and that this relentless hostility has reached southern Red Sea ports. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that, at any moment, this volatile movement could take over the southern entrance of the Red Sea and either block or at least obstruct navigation. Such actions will have a direct impact on navigation in the Suez Canal.

Furthermore, it is imperative to remember that the Houthis have seized control of the SAFER oil tanker anchored off the port of Hodeidah, preventing UN experts from accessing the tanker to carry out the needed maintenance; thus, leaving the tanker at high risk of leakage at any moment. It would be dangerous to neglect the fact that any oil leakage from the tanker could see the coastline polluted all along the Red Sea.

We would also be mistaken if we believe that the Houthi militia is operating of its own accord without receiving directives from anyone, or that they have been supplying their own missiles and drones. The Houthis have been outspoken about their ties with Iran, and it is not a secret that these missiles and drones are coming directly from the Supreme Leader Khomeini’s government in Tehran.

It would be an even bigger mistake to assume that Iran’s Supreme Leader is targeting the Gulf in general, and Saudi territories in particular, as part of the confrontation between the Shia in Iran and the Sunnis in the Gulf. In truth, the origin of all this hostility is driven by the long-standing Arab-Persian conflict. The Sunni-Shia issue is a mere ruse used to add more fuel to the fire.

A Houthi tribesman holds his weapon during a gathering showing support for the Houthi militia, in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 21, 2019. (File photo: AP)
A Houthi tribesman holds his weapon during a gathering showing support for the Houthi militia, in Sanaa, Yemen, Sept. 21, 2019. (File photo: AP)

Moreover, it would be wise to remember that Iran, which has access to the southern end of the Red Sea, also has access to its northern end through its declared relationship with Hamas in Gaza, which lies directly at the Egyptian borders.

The latest attack by the Houthi movement took place the day before yesterday targeting the civilians in Saudi Arabia's Khamis Mushait, and this was followed by strong condemnation from the Arab side. In this context, the UAE Foreign Ministry has denounced the international community, urging it to break the silence regarding the Houthis’ intensified hostilities and take responsibility for ending the Houthi threat.

It has become apparent that placing our bets on the international community to take the necessary action is futile. As we can see, the international community is fully aware of the actions Ethiopia is taking regarding the dam issue and of the Houthi aggression, yet it stands by idly, repeatedly turning a blind eye. The only bet we should be placing is on ourselves as Arabs to take matters into our own hands. As Arabs, we must address the Houthi threat and resolve the Ethiopian dam issue.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.