The risk of Western escalation in the Red Sea

Summary: Arab Digest’s resident Yemen expert drills down on the latest escalation in the Gaza war, examining the implications for the region and the world of the ongoing Red Sea air strikes and counter-strikes between the US, joined by the UK, and the Huthis.

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1 thought on “The risk of Western escalation in the Red Sea”

  1. With apologies, I have a minor quibble with Helen Lackner’s otherwise excellent commentary on the risk of Western escalation in the Red Sea, ie her characterisation of Joe Biden’s chances of reelection as “weak at the best of times”. Although Donald Trump currently has a narrow (ie generally within the statistical margin for error) in critical swing states, a Biden vs Trump re-run currently looks very tight indeed. Furthermore (and here, to be fair, I may be reading more into Helen’s words than is justified), it would be very unusual indeed for the outcome of a US presidential election to be determined by foreign policy. Much more likely, in my view, is that James Carville’s 1992 slogan for Bill Clinton, ie “It’s the Economy, Stupid”, will again prove decisive, albeit somewhat modified in that polling for months has made it clear that voters are more gloomy than the economic reality in the US warrants (ie the Biden campaign urgently needs to sharpen up its messaging!). Nevertheless, and very relevant to how events unfold in the Red Sea, it is worth keeping in mind that, although it is far from the only economic issue which will weigh on how Americans vote, the price of gasoline at the pump remains politically very sensitive with the buck inevitably stopping in the Oval Office if prices are high.

    As for Democrats who are angry with Mr Biden over his stance on Gaza, there is no reason to suppose that they will vote for Mr Trump. Rather, the risk is that they will not turn out for Mr Biden. However, this has always been the case to an extent in an election where, in my view, if Mr Biden does prevail it will owe a great deal to votes against a second Trump term.

    None of which is to argue that Mr Biden will win. Indeed, I have for weeks been pressing my clients to be contingency planning now against a Trump victory. However (and assuming that Mr Trump is indeed the Republican nominee), it is far too soon effectively to write off a second Biden term.

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