Iran Accused of Orchestrating Attacks on Commercial Ships in Red Sea

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The United States has accused Iran of being “deeply involved” in attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial ships in the Red Sea. Tehran has provided drones and missiles to the Houthis, as well as tactical intelligence “critical in enabling” the strikes, the White House has said.

Over the past month, maritime traffic has been disrupted in the Red Sea as a result of Yemen’s Houthis carrying out numerous drone and missile attacks on international shipping.

“We know that Iran was deeply involved in planning the operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea,” White House national security spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement, adding that it is “an international challenge that demands collective action.” The White House has also said it is mulling additonal actions to respond to the Houthis.

The organization has stated that the assaults are a reaction to Israeli bombings in Gaza. The situation in the Palestinian area intensified on October 7th when Hamas combatants launched an attack on Israel, resulting in approximately 1,200 fatalities and numerous individuals being held captive. Israel’s retaliatory campaign aganist Gaza, which Israeli authorities claim is intended to eradicate the extremist group, has resulted in over 20,000 fatalities thus far, according to local health officials. The Houthis have committed to persistently targeting vessels near Yemen as long as Israel continues its offensive against Hamas.

Houthi rebels issue warnings about attacking American naval vessels. Iran has consistently refuted any involvement in the Houthis’ assaults in the Red Sea. Nasser Kanaani, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, emphasized in early December that these “resistance groups” are acting autonomously and are not receiving instructions from Tehran to counter the war crimes and genocide perpetrated by Israel.

On Wednesday, ex-National Security Advisor to Donald Trump and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, argued in the Washington Post that the administration of President Joe Biden was showing weakness in its treatment of the Houthis. Bolton also cited Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who recently told The New York Times that the US must face “consequences” for its support of Israel. However, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said this week that the US would not “telegraph any punches one way or the other.”

Last week, the US announced a naval coalition of 20 mostly NATO countries to jointly patrol the Red Sea area in order to repel and respond to Houthi attacks. The strikes have disrupted a key trade route linking Europe and North America with Asia via the Suez Canal, and caused delays in deliveries and dramatically raised shipping costs as vessels are being forced to take alternative and longer routes.

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