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Houthi’s interference with global shipping contributes to global instability

The Yemen-based Houthi terrorists have disrupted global shipping routes by attacking civilian ships in the Red Sea as Iran, China, and Russia align to present a new challenge to the West, according to experts.

Earlier this month, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells in the waters near South Korean islands, threatening to attack South Korea with nuclear weapons if necessary.

Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, and China is also threatening to use force to take over Taiwan.

In the first two weeks of January, the number of cargo ships passing through the Suez Canal on the tip of the Red Sea dropped to 150 from 400 in the same period last year, as a result of the Houthi terrorist attacks on Red Sea civilian vessels. Shipping companies have quadrupled the price of containers traveling from Asia to Europe, partly to cover the extra cost of sailing around Africa. Those continuing to use the Red Sea route face significantly higher insurance premiums.

JP Morgan Chase predicted on Thursday that global consumer prices for goods would rise an extra 0.7 percent in the first half of this year if the transportation disruptions persisted.

Iran’s Sponsorship of Terrorism 

The Houthis have long been accused of being backed by the Iranian regime. A Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam confirmed that the terrorist organization has a relationship with Iran and has “benefited from the Iranian experience in training and military manufacturing and capabilities.”

Carl Schuster, former Chief of the Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center in Hawaii, told The Epoch Times that Iran supported the Houthis to attack Red Sea ships “in order to put pressure on the international community to force Israel to end the Gaza fight before Hamas loses much of its leadership and military capability.

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“Tehran is dedicated to destroying Israel but prefers to sacrifice its surrogates rather than risk the consequences from Iran committing an act of war on the U.S. or one of its allies, including Israel,” Mr. Shuster said.

The vessel that carried Iranian-made missile components bound for Yemen's Houthi in the Arabian Sea. (U.S. Central Command via AP)
The vessel that carried Iranian-made missile components bound for Yemen’s Houthi in the Arabian Sea. (U.S. Central Command via AP)
Iran supported the Hamas terrorists to attack Israel, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, and a retired U.S. Army Colonel with 30 years of military intelligence experience, told The Epoch Times in October 2023.

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel. While firing more than 3,000 rockets at Israel, it also sent 2,500 terrorists and Gazan civilians to invade Israel, massacring more than 1,200 Israelis and kidnapping more 240 people, including women, children, and elderly back to Gaza. The terrorists also attacked military bases of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on the border. It was the worst attack on Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Within Gaza, the two main factions are Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement. Hamas, a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel, is in charge, Mr. Mastriano said. Islamic Jihad had a battle with Hamas about a decade ago, but both are funded and backed by Iran and they worked together in the attacks against Israel.

“Iran is funding both Sunni and Shia groups, and the groups in Gaza are Sunni, which is opposed to them theologically, but they’re together on their mutual hatred of Israel,” he said. “So, I think Hezbollah is more likely to launch rocket attacks. They have around 200,000 well-trained soldiers, trained by the Iranians, backed by Syria as well—the Assad regime—and they might cause problems on the Iranian northern border.”

Anders Corr, founder of Corr Analytics and publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, told The Epoch Times that Iran is orchestrating these operations in the Middle East as it seeks a regional proxy war against its rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“It acts in concert with China, Russia, North Korea, and Venezuela in creating global chaos in an attempt to weaken the U.S. and allied power structures that support democracy and human rights,” he said.

Russia’s Threat to Europe

In a televised interview last October, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) labeled China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran as the new axis of evil. Recently, these four countries have been making a lot of moves with the intention of subverting the status quo in the world.

In February 2022, Russia launched an invasion against Ukraine. After nearly two years of war, President Joe Biden’s senior staff told members of Congress in a closed session on Jan. 17 that if the U.S. Congress fails to authorize additional military aid to Ukraine in the coming days, Russia could win the war in a matter of weeks, or months at most.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told members of Congress during a meeting at the White House that Ukraine will exhaust some of its air defense and artillery capabilities in the coming weeks.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has stepped up aggressive rhetoric against some of its neighbors, including NATO members such as the Baltic states and Poland, as well as Moldova, prompting senior European defense officials to warn that Russia could launch an attack on NATO within five to eight years.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, “We hear threats from the Kremlin almost every day … so we have to take into account that Vladimir Putin might even attack a NATO country one day.”

Sweden’s Minister for Civil Defense Carl-Oskar Bohlin also warned that “war could come to Sweden.”

After Russia attacked Ukraine, Poland is spending more than 4 percent of its GDP on defense this year. Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said in January, “Russia is defying logic. What happened in 2022 seemed impossible. We must be ready for any scenario.”

Mr. Schuster said that leaders of Iran, Russia, and China have all noticed divisions within the United States and are taking advantage of them. “Ending the enforcement of sanctions against Iran gave Tehran the money to increase support to its surrogates. The wars in Europe and the Middle East divert U.S. and Western resources from Asia in general, and from China in particular.”

North Korea’s Nuclear Threat

While Russia and Iran are waging war in Europe and the Middle East, North Korea has also become aggressive, firing hundreds of artillery shells in the waters off South Korea’s islands on Jan. 5. On Jan. 19, North Korea said it had tested an underwater nuclear drone to help repel the U.S. Navy.

This satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc., a uranium enrichment plant is seen at North Korea's main Yongbyon nuclear complex, Sept. 18, 2021. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
This satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc., a uranium enrichment plant is seen at North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex, Sept. 18, 2021. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

In January, North Korean state media reported that the country had abandoned its policy of “peaceful reunification.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said last December that his country no longer viewed South Korea as a ”partner in reconciliation and unification” but as an enemy to be conquered through nuclear war if necessary.

Kim Jong-un also ordered a revision of the regime’s constitution and its propaganda to remove references to “peaceful unification,” “national unity,” or referring to South Koreans as “compatriots.” The new rhetoric for the North Korean people is that South Korea is a “foreign country” and “the most hostile nation.”

“If a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, we make clear in our constitution that we seek the complete occupation, conquest, and reclamation of Korea and its annexation as part of the territory of our republic,” Kim Jong-un said.

In support of Kim Jong-un’s new policy, the North Korean rubber-stamp parliament has dissolved all government agencies responsible for facilitating exchanges with South Korea. In the past week, North Korea has also shut down radio stations and propaganda websites that were supposedly promoting Korean unification.

Diverting America’s Resources 

Kim Jong-un’s actions, possibly at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Russia, are intended to “save the Zhao from the Wei,” Mr. Schuster said, referring to an ancient Chinese stratagem of attacking a strong enemy where he is weak to provide relief for another party.

“This would force South Korea to delay sending supplies to Ukraine and Poland. Similarly, any supplies and resources that the U.S. retains in support of Korea are at the expense of deliveries to Ukraine. Finally, since the U.S. no longer had the defense industrial base to rapidly increase production, supplies and materials sent to Israel and Ukraine had to be diverted from the manufacturing bases and stockpiles that supplied weapons to Taiwan, the Communist Party’s primary strategic target,” he said.

The threat of a forceful Chinese attack on Taiwan is also growing. During an inspection of the Central Military Commission’s Joint Warfare Command Center on Nov. 8, 2022, CCP leader Xi Jinping asked the military to “focus all its energies on fighting the war, and put all its efforts into fighting the war.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in late October 2022 that the Chinese regime had decided to accelerate plans for an invasion of Taiwan.

Adm. Michael Gilday, the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Operations at the time, also said in October 2022 at an event at the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, that the possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the near future could not be ruled out.

Mr. Schuster said that the current situation is very similar to that of the 1930s. “At that time, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union acted independently but simultaneously to undermine the status quo that had secured British leadership after World War I. The United Kingdom and its allies were suffering internally. Britain and its allies were suffering from internal political divisions that prevented a unified alliance response. Britain opted for appeasement until it was too late. The result was the Second World War.


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