By: Tina Ayigbe and Eguono Eseme (Foreign Desk Writers)
Amid the battles between Israel and the militant group in Gaza, tensions in the Middle East, have continued to rise following recent US and British strikes in Yemen.
CNBS reports that tens of thousands of Yemenis gathered in several cities on Friday to hear their leaders condemn U.S. and British strikes on their country in response to attacks by Houthi militants on Red Sea shipping.
The U.S. and Britain carried out dozens of air strikes on Houthi military targets overnight, widening a wave of regional conflict unleashed by Israel’s war in Gaza.
“Your strikes on Yemen are terrorism,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, referring to the United States. “The United States is the Devil.”
The Houthis, led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, are an Iran-backed group of Shiite rebels who have been fighting Yemen’s government for about two decades and now control the country’s northwest and its capital, Sana.
A report by the New York Times, reveals that they have built their ideology around opposition to Israel and the United States, seeing themselves as part of the Iranian-led “axis of resistance,” along with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Their leaders often draw parallels between the American-made bombs used to pummel their forces in Yemen and the arms sent to Israel and used in Gaza.
In 2014, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened to try to restore the country’s original government after the Houthis seized the capital, starting a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands.
According to the New York Times, when the Israeli-Hamas war started on Oct. 7, the Houthis declared their support for Hamas and said they would target any ship traveling to Israel or leaving it.
Yahya Sarea, a Houthi spokesman, has said frequently that the group is attacking ships to protest the “killing, destruction and siege” in Gaza and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The Gazan authorities say that more than 23,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the Israeli bombing campaign and ground offensive that started after Hamas carried out cross-border raids and massacred, the Israeli authorities say, about 1,200 people.
Since November, the Houthis have launched 27 attacks with drones and missiles on vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that they claim are heading toward or leaving Israeli ports. The latest was on Thursday at 2 a.m., when a missile landed near a commercial vessel, the U.S. military said.
However, since the strikes were launched on Thursday night, condemnation from various countries and organizations have continued to filter in.
The Russian government condemned the strikes as an irresponsible violation of international law and called for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Zakharova, stated that the strikes showed a “complete disregard for international law” and were “escalating” the situation in the Middle East.
For his part, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reprimanded the US and UK governments, saying that they are “trying to turn the Red Sea into a sea of blood”
Emmanuel Macron, French president expressed concerns over the strikes and the potential for escalation in the region, as Saudi Arabia foreign ministry called for restraint and “avoiding escalation” after the strikes, emphasizing the importance of maintaining regional stability.
But in clever attempts to exonerate and justify their actions, the US and UK said their strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen were an act of self-defense.
U.S president, Joe Biden stated the strikes were launched in response to attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militia on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
President Biden, added that the strikes were a direct response to the Houthi attacks and were necessary to protect US interest.
The US and UK have also emphasized that they have the right to use force under international law when acting in self-defense.