Joe Biden’s Red Sea Problem Is Getting Worse | NEWSWEEK

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Joe Biden’s Red Sea Problem Is Getting Worse | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted by Brendan Cole Senior News Reporter for NEWSWEEK.

A warning by the U.S. and other states to Houthi rebels to stop Red Sea shipping attacks comes amid questions over whether President Joe Biden is being tough enough on the Yemeni group and fears that an escalation in the region will disrupt world trade.

The U.S. joined 10 other countries in warning that if the Iranian-backed group continued to attack shipping, it would “bear the consequences”—suggesting the threat of military action against targets in Yemen.

U.S. deputy ambassador Christopher Lu told an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting that the Houthis have carried out more than 20 attacks since November 19, with the rebel group announcing Wednesday morning it had targeted another container ship.

The Houthis support Hamas in its war against Israel that followed the October 7 attacks by the Palestinian militants, resulting in Israel’s siege on Gaza. Houthis have used missiles, drones, fast boats and helicopters, claiming that they are targeting ships linked to Israel in revenge for its military campaign against Hamas.

The threat the group poses has prompted Danish shipping company Maersk to suspend its passage through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal until further notice.

“Maersk’s decision to halt its Red Sea routes highlights the U.S. administration’s failure to counter the Houthi threat, due to its lack of conviction to proactively prosecute Houthi targets,” said regional analyst and former Israeli intelligence official Avi Melamed.

“The (Biden) administration’s response hasn’t proven forceful enough,” he told Newsweek in emailed comments. “The region, along with commercial shippers like Maersk, seeks a more decisive U.S. intervention to deter future Houthi attacks. The Houthi success measure has been achieved with Maersk’s announcement, leaving the outcome in the hands of the U.S. administration.”

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis told MSNBC that the White House needs a “more aggressive” response to deal with the Houthi threat. As Israel’s main ally, the U.S. has deployed to the region substantial naval, air and ground forces during the earlier stages of the war in Gaza. It sent the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to the region and announced a coalition of countries would protect movement in the Red Sea.

But the U.S. has held back from military strikes on the Houthis. This is largely due to concern in the Biden administration about affecting a shaky truce in Yemen and sparking a wider regional conflict, the Associated Press noted.

Maersk has said some vessels will be rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and that more than 100 of its vessels sailing in the coming weeks have been diverted.

Other major shipping firms, including Hapag-Lloyd, Evergreen Line and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, have also stopped using the waterway due to the attacks which are disrupting global supply chains, pushing up freight costs and lengthening delivery times.

“From an investment perspective, the Red Sea conflict will escalate in the very near term until the U.S. and Western armada restore stability and free navigation and traffic,” Matt Gertken, chief geopolitical strategist for BCA Research, told Newsweek.

“This will introduce volatility into financial markets. Beyond the Red Sea, Israel will pivot away from Gaza and escalate the conflict to attempt to push back Hezbollah and restore security on the Lebanese border.”

“This will involve an escalation and risk of direct conflict with Iran. It could affect global oil supply negatively, with a one-third chance of a major oil shock that harms the global economy.”

Around 15 percent of global trade passes through the critical waterway and the International Chamber of Shipping said a fifth of the world’s container ships are avoiding the Red Sea. “Over the next 12 months, investors should expect oil price volatility, stock market volatility, and ultimately a correction in global risky assets as a consequence of this expanding Middle Eastern conflict,” added Gertken.

Disruption to global trade flows could also increase inflation and have knock-on economic impact for the U.S. which would pose a potential problem for Biden in an election year.

Joe Biden’s Red Sea Problem Is Getting Worse | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted by Brendan Cole Senior News Reporter for NEWSWEEK.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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