Last night, US and British airstrikes rained down dozens of sophisticated bombs over the heads of some of the world’s poorest people. The hands of the western imperialists are drenched with the blood of the Gazan people, but up until now they could hide behind the fact that whilst, yes, they may have supplied the guns, the bombs, the money and the political cover for the slaughter, they didn’t directly pull the trigger. No, they always insisted the slaughter should be carried out with “moderation”, with “proportionate force”. Now in Yemen, they have directly intervened, recklessly escalating the conflict in the region. We say: hands off Yemen! Down with the imperialist murderers!
We must grant the western imperialists this much: they have been quite transparent about why they have intervened.
“In accordance with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defence,” they pompously declared in a joint statement after the bombing, “these precision strikes were intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways.”
Biden underlined that he would not hesitate to take further measures to protect “the free flow of international commerce”.
“Whatever you think of the Houthis’ cause and their justification,” UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey stated, “we cannot allow them to seek to choke off global trade as a ransom to achieve whatever their political and diplomatic aims are.”
So whilst Gazans add up their dead, and we patiently await the verdict of the ICJ on whether they are the victims of genocide or mere mass murder, a far graver threat to the Free World must be confronted: the sacred right of shipping and oil companies to trade and make profit.
Next to the interests of profit, what right does an impoverished people have to retaliate to the Gaza slaughter by firing improvised devices at Israeli and Israel-bound ships in the Red Sea? In carrying out their righteous duty, the UK government has appealed to… “international law”!
Since 2015, the Yemeni people have been subjected to mass slaughter by a Saudi-led coalition, backed and armed by the US, Britain and the West, which has seen 150,000 killed by western supplied munitions and hundreds of thousands more killed by hunger and disease as a result. The story of the war against the Houthi rebels is one long string of war crimes: man-made famine, weddings, funerals and even school buses bombed, entire families wiped out.
Now the western imperialists appeal to “international law” to renew their bombardment of Yemen in order to give a warning against interfering with Israel’s ongoing operations and to protect profit and trade, as they state openly. The hypocrisy is enough to make you choke.
A piece of theatre
On a strategic level, it is hard to imagine that any thought went into this reckless bombardment, which pushes the region even closer towards an abyss.
The imperialists claim in their statement on the attacks that their aim was “to disrupt and degrade the capabilities” of the Houthis, who have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea since November. But if that is the case, why was the attack preceded by government press statements announcing the bombing with a drum roll?
“Watch this space,” Grant Schapps told the press two days ago. “We're going to do what we have to do to counter these threats,” the White House national security spokesman told newspapers a few hours before the attack – plenty of time for the Houthis to securely hide their materiel.
The whole thing was a piece of theatre to mask the impotence of the imperialists – a very expensive and risky piece of theatre at that. It isn’t going to solve the problems that the imperialists have got themselves into. In fact, it has the potential to make them a lot worse.
The bombing of a few sites across Yemen won’t have the slightest impact on the capability of the Houthis. Years of fierce bombardment by the Saudis failed to dislodge the Houthis. Even Israel’s aerial bombardment and land invasion of the tiny enclave of Gaza has merely dented Hamas and is doomed to failure.
Only a full land invasion could break the Houthis’ capabilities, and US imperialism and its allies, after the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, are in no mood for that. But the US deterrence strategy so far has been a hopeless failure too. True, US warships have been stationed in the region to ‘protect’ trade vessels, but this has only shown up the impotence of the world’s mightiest navy.
The Houthis are not operating with equipment stationed at a handful of high-tech facilities that can be quickly ‘taken out’. They are using cheap, remotely-controlled, unmanned boats packed with IEDs, and drones made up of commercially-accessible parts that can be hidden without much effort, and quickly and cheaply replaced.
It’s estimated that the average improvised Houthi drone costs about $2,000 to construct. But each guided missile that the US Navy launches to take out a single drone costs about $2 million a piece. And their supply of such missiles is by no means inexhaustible.
“It’s a remarkably weak strategic response and an unaffordable calculus,” Forbes magazine complained back in December, “But [it] tells us a lot about the state of American military and political leadership and America’s waning power.”
The western imperialists had to do something to save face, and this prestige-saving exercise is what they came up with.
No sane solution
The situation is showing up the imperialists. A handful of poorly-armed rebels are holding up shipping in a sea which is used to transport 15 percent of the world’s traffic. Major shipping companies and oil companies including BP have already begun diverting traffic around the Cape of Good Hope, adding weeks to transport time and driving up costs.
This will add to inflationary pressures in the world economy, and many companies are facing severe disruption. Tesla has announced that it will have to suspend manufacturing vehicles at its German plant as a result of a shortage of components that usually arrive via this trade route.
All this comes at a time of record low water levels in the Panama Canal, disrupting sea trade in another major economic artery, and as capitalism faces powerful economic headwinds that threaten to push the world into recession.
But the intervention of the imperialists, who are trying to save face whilst sending a warning to keep out of Israel’s war and keep shipping lanes clear, will not stabilise the situation. Instead, they are pouring petrol onto the flames.
Oil prices have already spiked a further two percent since last night’s bombing. And above all, they are pouring petrol onto burning anger of millions of people across the region, where many regimes are already teetering on the edge.
So we have the spectacle of Anthony Blinken running around the Middle East like a headless chicken trying to soothe Arab leaders and evade an escalation, while the senile man in the White House undoing these efforts by ordering the bombing of Houthis, who alone in the region have taken action against Israel.
How to explain this? Are the US imperialists insane? Perhaps, but there is a saying: a man at the edge of a cliff does not reason. The present situation is beyond their control and is daily becoming more uncontrollable. Whatever they do, there is no sane solution. They want to avoid an escalation, that is true. But doing nothing is also not an option, as it will only underline their present weakness.
Responsibility for the war in Gaza, the destabilisation of the Middle East and the inevitable retaliations, the disruption of sea trade – the cost of which will be loaded onto the shoulders of the poor in the form of higher prices – all this must be placed on the shoulders of the Israeli ruling class and above all the western imperialists.
They will not be brought to order by ICJ or ICC rulings, nor by the UN, nor by peaceful protests in major capitals. And despite the fact that Biden and Sunak bypassed Congress and Parliament, we’ve no doubt that had they granted them that courtesy, the politicians of the ruling class would only have rubber stamped their imperialist designs.
The only true friends that the Palestinian and Yemeni people have against imperialism are the billions of oppressed and working-class people of the world. To stop the war on Gaza, to free Palestine, and to prevent the imperialists dragging the region to hell, we must overthrow imperialism. Only socialist revolution can deliver us from all this. We say:
Hands off Yemen!
From Gaza to London to Washington: Intifada until victory! Revolution until victory!