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File Photo: The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Mason pulls alongside a fleet replenishment oiler in the Atlantic Ocean, July 17, 2021.

U.S. Navy/Bill Mesta/Handout via REUTERS

American sailors arrest Houthi militants

Lost in the good news over a two-day extension of the humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza and the promised release of more captured civilians, is an event that could signal the rising risk of a broader Middle East war. On Sunday, a US warship captured five armed Houthi militants attempting to flee an Israeli-linked tanker they had briefly seized off the coast of Yemen. This is just the latest belligerent exchange between US forces and militants aligned with Iran. As in other cases, two missiles fired at the US ship from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen looked more like a fist-shake than a serious attempt to hurt anyone.

But these incidents are likely to escalate as the Qatari-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ends in the coming days and the fighting intensifies sharply in southern Gaza. There is no evidence that Houthis and other Iranian proxies are following direct orders from Tehran, even if they share Iran’s view of the war. But if militants begin acting more aggressively on their own initiative, the risk of a deadly encounter that escalates the violence beyond Gaza will grow.

Houthi fighters fire anti-tank grenades during a military maneuver near Sanaa, Yemen, in late October.

Houthi Media Center/Handout via REUTERS

Iran-backed Houthi rebels drum up trouble in the Red Sea

Houthi rebels appear to have opened a new front in the Israel-Hamas war, targeting maritime traffic in the Red Sea. On Sunday, they hijacked the Galaxy Leader, a Bahamas-flagged cargo ship bound for India, and took 25 hostages of varying nationalities, including Bulgarian, Filipino, Mexican, and Ukrainian. The hijackers then redirected the vessel to a port in Yemen and stated that “all ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it will become legitimate targets.”

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The war in Yemen
Ian Bremmer Explains: The War in Yemen | GZERO World

The war in Yemen

Amid the ongoing civil war, the people of Yemen face a multitude of difficulties every day, from food shortages and crumbling infrastructure to COVID and inflation. The UN estimates that the total death toll so far will hit 377,000 by the end of the year.

How did Yemen, a beautiful country on the Red Sea known for its coffee and honey, become a proxy war for regional powers and international actors?

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