Washington’s attempt to put together a coalition against the Houthis is attracting almost none of the regional powers
The US-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen has been facing increasing challenges and resistance from its regional allies, who are reluctant to get involved in another costly and complex war in the Middle East.
The Houthi movement, officially known as Ansar Allah, is a Shia Islamist group that emerged from northern Yemen in the 1990s and has been fighting against the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi since 2014.
However, despite several attempts by Washington to rally more regional actors to join its anti-Houthi campaign, such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, and Bahrain, none of them have shown any interest or willingness to participate. Instead, they have expressed their concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which has been worsened by the ongoing conflict and has caused widespread famine and disease.
Some of these countries have also tried to mediate between the warring parties or offer humanitarian aid to both sides. For example, Egypt hosted several rounds of peace talks between Hadi’s government and the Houthis in 2018 and 2019, but they failed to produce any breakthroughs. Jordan has been hosting thousands of displaced Yemenis since 2015 and has provided them with food and medical assistance. Morocco has offered to host peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran on Yemen issues. Sudan has called for an end to hostilities and a political solution based on UN resolutions. Bahrain has urged all parties to respect international law and human rights.
The lack of regional support for the US-led coalition reflects several factors that make it difficult for Washington to achieve its objectives in Yemen. First, there is no clear or unified vision or strategy for resolving the conflict among its allies. Each country has its own interests and agendas in Yemen or elsewhere in the region that may not align with those of Washington or Saudi Arabia.
Second, there is no guarantee that Iran would comply with any agreement that would limit its involvement or influence in Yemen or elsewhere in the region. Iran may see any concession as a sign of weakness or appeasement from Washington or Saudi Arabia that could embolden its rivals or undermine its own position.
Third, there is no guarantee that any intervention by regional powers would be effective or successful in changing the balance of power on the ground or influencing the behavior of either side. Any military action could escalate into a wider confrontation that could draw in other actors such as Russia or Turkey who have their own interests and stakes in Syria or Libya.
Therefore, while Washington may hope that more regional involvement would help it achieve its goals of restoring stability and security in Yemen and preventing further Iranian expansionism in the region, it may also face more challenges and risks if it continues to pursue this option without securing more concrete commitments or guarantees from its allies.