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The Challenge With the Deter and Degrade Approach in Yemen

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In a month marked by ongoing strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen by the United States and sporadically the United Kingdom, a strategic confrontation unfolds in the Red Sea. 

The primary objectives of these strikes are two-fold: to dissuade future Houthi attacks on commercial shipping and to compel a cessation of hostilities by diminishing the group's military capabilities. However, the Houthis perceive the conflict through a broader lens, viewing it as part of a longstanding political agenda spanning decades.

The Houthis exhibit a steadfast resolve, viewing the confrontation with the U.S. as advantageous regionally and domestically. Politically, aligning with the Palestinian cause enhances their popularity, while domestically, it consolidates support and deflects internal criticism. Economically, the conflict serves as a means to seize control of vital oil and gas-rich territories like Marib and Shabwa, essential for their sustained governance.

Moreover, the Houthis' resilience is underscored by their adaptability and support from Iran, enabling them to endure prolonged conflicts against superior forces. Having withstood previous wars against the Yemeni government and a decade-long confrontation with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Houthis remain undeterred, buoyed by a track record of endurance and outside support.

For the Houthis, victory doesn't necessarily entail defeating the United States outright; their objective is to sustain pressure on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Armed with Iranian-supplied weaponry and a history of resilience, the Houthis present a formidable challenge to efforts aimed at deterring and degrading their capabilities. Thus, the conflict persists as a protracted struggle with no clear resolution in sight.

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Source: AGSIW