Moscow’s Joy over Houthi Strikes Short-Lived as Russian Oil Tanker Targeted | NEWSWEEK

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Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “Moscow’s Joy over Houthi Strikes Short-Lived as Russian Oil Tanker Targeted”, an article by Brendan Cole Senior News Reporter for NEWSWEEK.

A Kremlin propagandist has boasted how Houthi attacks in the Red Sea have helped Russia by diverting Western attention away from the war in Ukraine. However, one of his country’s oil tankers got caught up in hostilities when it was mistakenly fired upon, 90 nautical miles southeast of Yemen’s port city of Aden, by the Yemeni militants.

After weeks of Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea that the Iranian-backed group said was in response to Israel’s military offensive against Hamas, the U.K and the U.S. carried out strikes on targets linked to the Yemeni group.

On Saturday, the U.S. launched a follow-up attack against a Houthi site in Yemen; one expert told Newsweek that the strikes would send a strong message to Tehran and its regional partners.

Hawkish Russian politician Aleksey Zhuravlyov told 60 Minutes on the Russia 1 channel how the situation in the Red Sea is “totally beneficial for us” because “everybody is forgetting about Ukraine.”

“Go ahead, the West,” said Zhuravlyov, chairman of the Rodina (Motherland) political party, citing Western help in Ukraine’s fight in the war started by Moscow at a time of tensions in the Red Sea. “Are you ready to wage a bunch of wars?” Zhuravlyov added in a clip shared by Russia watcher Julia Davis on X, formerly Twitter.

However, Zhuravlyov’s comments come amid a report that Houthi militants fired a missile that landed within 1,500 feet of a vessel carrying Russian oil. It was sailing 90 nautical miles southeast of Yemen’s port city of Aden, Reuters said.

British maritime security firm Ambrey said that it was the “second tanker mistakenly targeted by the Houthis whilst carrying Russian oil.” The incident was likely prompted by outdated publicly available information linking the vessel to the U.K.

The Houthis have vowed a strong and effective response to the attacks as anticipation builds over what they will do next.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said last week the Houthi rebels had amassed a remarkably diverse array of anti-ship weaponry of both cruise and ballistic missile.

Zev Faintuch, senior intelligence analyst at security firm Global Guardian, told Newsweek: “I don’t think we should assume that at present, the U.S and coalition vessels are completely impregnable. The U.S. sailors have done a commendable job so far, but at some point, human and or technical errors occur.”

The IISS said that Iran has been key to upgrades to the Houthi’s anti-ship missile capability, raising “broader questions about Tehran’s regional strategy.”

Middle East analyst and former Israeli intelligence official Avi Melamed told Newsweek that, until the U.S attacks on Houthis, Iran’s strategy had assumed Washington and its allies would not use proactive force on Tehran or its proxies.

The U.S. attack “proved otherwise sending a strong message not only to Tehran—but all of its partners as well,” Melamed said in emailed comments.

What Will Iran Do Next?

The Houthis have been integral to Tehran’s tactic of using its proxies to manipulate Washington to pressure Israel to halt its fight in Gaza, Melamed said. This is especially so given that Hezbollah in Lebanon is not interested in engaging Israel in a full-scale war and Iraqi militias are limited in what they can do against Israel or the U.S.

“Until last night, the major question reverberating throughout the region was focused on whether the U.S. would meaningfully defend its interests,” Melamed added. “Today, that question focuses on Tehran.”

Bryan Clark, head of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute, told Newsweek that the U.S. attacks were long-needed. This was “because the U.S. Navy cannot continue shooting down inexpensive drones and missiles with multi-million-dollar interceptors.”

“Normally, the U.S. way of fighting would seek to eliminate threats rather than continuing to mount a defensive action,” Clark said.

However, he added that, by attacking the Houthi sites, the U.S. gets more involved in the ongoing Yemen civil war, where Saudi Arabia has also been attacking Houthi targets. “Saudi Arabia has come under criticism for being indiscriminate in its attacks, which U.S. forces will need to avoid being similarly criticized,” Clark added.

Aid groups have expressed concerns that an escalation in the Red Sea could further undermine regional security.

Jared Rowell, Yemen country director for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said in a statement to Newsweek that Red Sea tensions were “already impacting the delivery of commercial and humanitarian aid to the country, resulting in delays in shipments of lifesaving commodities and rising costs of food and fuel.”

Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “Moscow’s Joy over Houthi Strikes Short-Lived as Russian Oil Tanker Targeted”, an article 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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