Failure Of Red Sea Coalition And Downfall Of US Hegemony – OpEd

The Red Sea has become a hotspot of tension due to the Houthi attacks on commercial Israeli-linked ships. The US has strongly and irresponsibly supported Israel, which has been slaughtering the people of Gaza, by providing it with huge quantities of weapons and diplomatic backing. The Western world’s silence and the Arab world’s inaction in response to this genocide have spurred the Yemeni Houthis to resist these human rights violations by targeting Israeli-linked ships. As a result, five major international shipping companies have halted their traffic through Bab al-Mandab. After the Houthi attacks, major shipping companies had to bypass the Red Sea and use alternative routes. This has made it more expensive to ship most of the world’s oil from Asia to Europe because the insurance costs have gone up and the other routes have added two weeks more.

The White House tried to negotiate indirectly with Ansar Allah through Oman’s mediation in response to these developments. The United States offered a list of incentives, such as reopening Sana’a airport and Hodeidah port and paying government employees’ salaries, to stop the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. Yemen rejected all proposals and declared that it would only stop targetting ships serving Israeli interests when the killing of civilians in Gaza stopped. The United States, which failed to convince the Yemenis, attempted to form a coalition against Yemen by militarizing the region and inviting Arab countries. This suited the United States, as it could distance itself from the war between Israel and Hamas and present the issue as a matter of shipping security in the Red Sea. Washington also invited European countries and China to join the coalition to prevent further escalation of conflicts.

Washington’s allies in Europe and the Arab world have not welcomed its call for participation. The coalition, which was meant to have 42 countries, has shrunk to 8 countries. The coalition’s failure has many causes, but the most important one is the collapse of the US hegemonic order. In a hegemonic system, unlike a domination system, there is an element of satisfaction. Other actors follow the hegemon’s agenda in exchange for security benefits. The hegemon ensures the survival and safety of its allies.

The US has pursued contradictory policies in the region and endangered the security of its allies. This is why major countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have rejected joining the coalition. The Biden administration, which had condemned the Saudis’ policies in the war with the Houthis, now expects Saudi Arabia to support Israel in a new war against Yemen. However, the relations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen have improved, thanks to China’s mediation between Riyadh and Tehran, and a peace deal with the Houthis is close to being signed. The UAE is also reluctant to join the coalition, as it has suffered greatly from the war in Yemen. The UAE had announced its withdrawal from a previous coalition in the region that aimed to protect trade in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea from pirates and terrorist groups.

Egypt is another major country in the region that depends heavily on the situation of the Bab El Mandab Strait for its economic life. The rising threats in Bab al-Mandab affect the number of ships that use the Suez Canal. The shift of sea routes by some major shipping companies and its economic impacts have worried Cairo. Egypt’s participation in the coalition would make sense from an economic perspective, but it chose not to compromise its security interests for economic interests. The Egyptian authorities care more about pressuring Israel to end the blockade of Gaza and remove the possibility of relocating the Palestinians to the Sinai desert, which would cause bigger and wider conflicts.

Another reason why Arab countries are reluctant to join the coalition is that they see the defense of sea lanes as a pretext to aid Israel at the cost of Arab interests. Arab elites think that Washington could have ended the blockade of Gaza diplomatically after Yemen targeted Israeli ships in the Red Sea, but the White House chose to risk the security of its allies by using military force to defend Israel’s interests.

The Biden administration is alienating its allies in the region by supporting Israel unconditionally and ignoring the needs of the Middle East. The Houthi attacks have disrupted China’s supply chains and forced the Chinese state-owned giant Cosco to stop transit through Bab al-Mandab. However, China is also benefiting from the Houthis’ action, as it sees it as a trial to close the strait in a potential conflict with the US. China controls three key world straits through its allies: the Strait of Malaga, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb. If a future war breaks out over Taiwan and the US intervenes, China can use these allies to threaten the supply and delivery of many goods and create serious problems for the global economy. The American elites will lose not only the countries of the region but also the competitive edge to China if they persist in their wrong policies.

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