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Will Saudi Arabia Benefit from Chaos in The Middle East

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

- The Houthi attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea have continued throughout the week, and the U.S. announcement of the deployment of an international task force has done nothing to shake Houthi determination. Like Venezuela’s Maduro, this is all about leverage over a Saudi-Iranian diplomatic rapprochement that has left the Houthis without full control of Yemen. In terms of energy, tankers are being rerouted, which is disruptive; however, the general consensus among analysts is that it should not fundamentally be threatening supply. The Red Sea task force does pose problems for the Saudis due to Iran’s serious opposition to a U.S.-led international task force in a region it dominates. Saudi condoning of this risks the Saudi-Iran detente, which is exactly what the Houthis are gunning for. The Saudis are preparing for two potential outcomes at the same time: monetary and other aid appeasement for the Houthis to avoid a war (with some help from Iran talking them down, which means not condoning the U.S. actions; or fighting a war against the Houthis (again). It’s a tricky balance for Riyadh. The Houthi is reaping some rewards, as well, including an increase in support for the group at home in Yemen and within the region to some extent because they are now seen as a definitive part of the Axis of Resistance. They are also winning over more recruits and getting stronger by the day, and they have an arsenal they haven’t…

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