Will Yemen and Iraq join Palestine’s Al-Aqsa Flood?

The Cradle, October 19, 2023 —

Tel Aviv’s war on the beleaguered Gaza Strip represents the first real test of the ‘Unity of Fronts’ concept, which may see a wide range of Axis of Resistance regional groups join the Palestinian resistance in a war on Israel.

Just hours after the launch of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the deadliest resistance offensive for Israel since its inception, supporters hit the streets in numerous Arab and Muslim-majority countries. Yet one nation, Yemen, stood out, despite its vast geographical distance from occupied Palestine.

Not unlike previous mass demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine, hundreds of thousands of Yemenis poured into the streets of various cities, unwavering in their declaration of readiness to stand with the Palestinian resistance against what they saw as the “enemy of the Ummah.”

In a stirring speech delivered on 10 October, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Ansarallah movement, proclaimed that Yemenis are ready to “perform their sacred duty to stand by the Palestinian people.”

“Our people are ready to move in hundreds of thousands and join the Palestinian people to confront the enemy, and we will not hesitate to do everything possible,” he added, before emphasizing that “We are in coordination with the Axis of Resistance, and if the Americans intervened militarily directly, we are ready to participate even with rocket shelling.” Notably, like other members of the Axis, Houthi warned the enemies against crossing certain “red lines.”

Yemen’s red lines 

Yemeni military expert Aziz Rashid posits that the US “is unable to engage in a direct clash with the Axis of Resistance because this will have serious repercussions on American and Zionist interests.”

Speaking to The Cradle, Rashid explains that that the “red lines” justifying Yemeni involvement in the conflict are not limited to direct US intervention. He points to other triggers for crossing these lines, including ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians, attacks on Jerusalem, Jenin, and Nablus in the West Bank, the request for intervention by Gaza’s resistance, and any serious attempts to eliminate the resistance. Crucially, he points out that these violations will trigger a coordinated response by the entire Axis “through the joint operations rooms.”

For the Yemeni populace, the Palestinian cause has long represented a principled, religious, moral, and national commitment. Political analyst Talib al-Hassani believes that “one of the reasons for the US-Saudi aggression against the state since March 2015 is Yemen’s position within the Axis of Resistance and the great danger it poses to the United States’ interests in the region.”

But the question remains whether a nation already worn down by eight years of relentless conflict and besieged conditions can realistically participate in military action against Israel.

Some may see this position as a show,” Hassani tells The Cradle, “but, in reality, Yemen has significant military capabilities that enable it to target Israel.” He highlights the transformation Yemen underwent after the 21 September Revolution in 2014, whose objectives encompassed liberating itself from foreign dominance and aligning with Arab and Islamic causes, including the Palestinian issue.

Ansarallah’s arsenal 

Tel Aviv takes these threats seriously. Israeli media sounded the alarm after Operation “Yemen Hurricane” on 17 January, 2022 when Ansarallah-aligned Yemeni forces struck UAE oil facilities with ballistic missiles and drones in Abu Dhabi and Dubai – this, from a distance of around 1,600 kilometers, which is equivalent to the distance between Yemen and Israel. That the Yemenis could potentially target the Israeli ports of Eilat, Tel Aviv, and Haifa were no longer in question.

Rashid underscores that any Yemeni involvement in the war would likely materialize in the form of drone and missile attacks targeting specific objectives, as per the Resistance Axis’ strategic plan, the Unity of Fronts.

Hassani further explains that these strikes “may extend beyond the occupied Palestinian territories to the sea lanes and American and Israeli bases in the Red Sea and the African side of the Red Sea.” He points to Houthi’s emphasis in his last speech that “we must have an impact on the Israeli enemy,” which means that the strikes “will be large, focused, accurate, and painful.”

Ansarallah’s formidable arsenal, some of which were showcased in a military parade in Sanaa during last month’s anniversary of the revolution, includes the impressive Samad 3 attack drones, which have a range of 1,800 kilometers and are armed with explosive warheads weighing between 20 and 50 kilograms.

Additionally, there’s the Eid 2 drone, carrying a hefty 40-kilogram explosive warhead and capable of reaching targets of up to 2,000 kilometers. The Yemeni army also possesses long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles like the Quds 4, Aqeel, and Toofan. Notably, their naval missiles can target Israeli and US bases in the Red Sea, as well as US bases in the Persian Gulf.

Checking the US in Iraq 

In Iraq, the resistance has already begun to hint at what lies ahead. On Wednesday, Kataib Hezbollah claimed credit for drone attacks on the Ain al-Assad and Al-Harir bases, in which a number of US servicemen were injured. The following day, the group’s spokesman, Jaafar al-Husseini, explained the reasons for the strike clearly: 

“The Americans are essential partners in killing the residents of the Gaza Strip and therefore, they must bear the consequences…[The US] knows very well the potential of the Iraqi resistance, which has multiplied for some time, and today we are at a stage capable of striking all American bases in Iraq.” 

Iraq, a country in which the Resistance Axis played a pivotal role in territorially defeating ISIS, exhibits no less enthusiasm for supporting the Palestinian resistance, especially in the face of relentless Israeli bombardment and potential direct US involvement.

In addition to Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani’s official condemnation of the occupation army’s genocide campaign, factions aligned with the Axis are gearing up for potential engagement in the multi-front war when the call is made. These factions aim to replicate the role they played in the Syrian theater against foreign-backed terrorist organizations.

A source within one of the Iraqi resistance factions reveals to The Cradle that coordination has already been established with Hamas. In recent days, meetings have taken place between Iraqi resistance factions to map out strategies for responding to Israeli attacks on Gaza, with a focus on expanding the battle’s scope to deter Israeli occupation forces. And the first course of action will be to ensure that Tel Aviv fights alone:

“The Iraqi factions are monitoring the course of events in Palestine, especially with regard to American and European intervention in military operations alongside Israel. We have taken measures on the ground and we are fully prepared, and the target bank has been determined in the event of any direct American intervention in the war.”

Secretary-General of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi threatened in a statement to target US bases in Iraq if the US intervened in Israel’s Gaza war. He stressed that “our missiles, drones, and special forces are ready to target the American enemy in its bases if it intervenes in this battle, and we will target known sites of the Zionist entity.”
Additionally, a source close to the Iraqi resistance told The Cradle that there are other means available to support Gaza’s resistance from Iraq that might place pressure on the US and Israel and change the equation – that we might witness in the upcoming hours or days.

Palestine’s got allies too 

The leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Sheikh Qais al-Khazali, made a phone call to Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh on 10 October, in which they discussed developments in Gaza. In a statement afterward, Khazali stressed that “Iraq is committed to supporting the Palestinian cause, and that the Iraqi resistance factions are fully prepared for any action required of them to liberate Holy Jerusalem and support the Palestinian people.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Badr Movement, Hadi al-Ameri, threatened the US occupying forces with “heavy losses” if Washington decided to intervene directly in the war. At a recent press conference, he held the US “responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip because of its unlimited support for the Zionists,” and said it “will suffer a great loss if it decides to enter the war on the side of the Zionist entity against the Palestinian people.”

Military expert Nawaf al-Badrani explains that, unlike Yemen’s resistance forces, Iraqi groups have some geographic limits:

“The Iraqi factions do not have ballistic missiles capable of reaching the occupied territories. Its involvement in the battle may be through targeting American forces stationed in 10 major military bases in Iraq, or coordinating with Syria to allow faction fighters to reach the borders of the occupied Golan.”

Iraqi sources reveal that fighters from certain armed factions have already moved toward areas near occupied Palestine, awaiting instructions to engage in the battle against the Israeli occupation army.

Contact made by The Cradle with several faction leaders confirms that these parties are prepared to participate in this “great fight” alongside the Palestinian resistance.

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