Breaking
May 29, 2024

Iran “very directly” supporting Houthi attacks on ships in Red Sea

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 23, 2024

According to the top US Navy commander in the Mideast, Iran has been “very directly” involved in assisting Yemen’s Houthi rebels in attacks on ships sailing in the Red Sea over the past two years. These attacks have threatened global shipping and further escalated tensions in the region.

Background of the Yemen conflict

Yemen has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. In 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition, with support from the US, launched an air campaign aimed at restoring the exiled government.

Despite over seven years of war, the stalemate persists between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels. The Houthis have received weapons, training, and funding from Iran to continue battling the Saudi-led forces.

Recent Houthi attacks on shipping

The Houthis have been using drones and missiles to attack Saudi Arabia and vessels sailing in the Red Sea for several years. According to Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who oversees US naval forces in the Mideast, these recent attacks “have been much more sophisticated.”

Over just the last two years, there have been over 150 attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, which is a critical global shipping route for oil tankers and cargo ships.

Last March, the Houthis attacked an oil products tanker with a bomb-laden drone, causing an explosion that killed two crew members. Additionally in January 2022, the rebels hijacked a UAE-flagged cargo ship, the Rwabee. They held the vessel and crew for over three weeks before releasing them.

“It’s been very sophisticated weaponry. I’d attribute that to Iranian proxy groups,” Cooper said, referring to the ship attacks.

Iran’s involvement

Adm. Cooper stated that Iran has played a crucial role providing the Houthis with the capabilities for their Red Sea ship assault campaign.

According to U.S. Navy officials and documents from a United Nations’ experts panel, Iran heavily supplies the Houthis with specialized equipment such as anti-ship missiles, sea mines, explosives, and even fishing boats modified into bomb boats.

Cooper also told The Associated Press that Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Lebanese Hezbolla commanders have helped direct the Houthis in ship attacks from small boats.

Weaponry supplied to Houthis by Iran Use in Red Sea ship attacks
Anti-ship cruise missiles Hitting large naval targets
Armed drones Cheap, reusable strikes
Sea mines Damaging hulls, blocking shipping lanes
Explosive boats Suicide attacks

Iran supports the Houthis to pressure regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Additionally, ties between the Houthis and Iran help Tehran access the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait and Persian Gulf shipping lanes. Over $1.14 billion worth of oil passes through the Bab el-Mandeb everyday.

“It’s geostrategically important for Iran to be influential there,” Cooper said.

Impacts

The Houthi assaults in the Red Sea have threatened global shipping and free passage of vessels through the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The attacks escalate regional tensions and undermine United Nations efforts at brokering peace.

Additionally concerning is potential environmental impacts from the attacks. Last year, the Houthis attacked an oil tanker which caused a massive oil spill and killed over 150,000 marine animals.

International response

In late January, the US Navy and allied forces conducted Red Sea exercises “to enhance maritime security across international shipping lanes.” Advanced warships were deployed to deter potential attacks against ships in the region.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and UAE leadership, condemned the “systematic Houthi attacks on civilians and vital facilities” and affirmed that “the terrorist Houthi militia” threatens regional and international security.

In the UN, US and Oman officials called for accountability for those directing Houthi aggression. However Russia and China continue blocking UN action against the Houthis.

Outlook

As the stalemate persists between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels, Iran seems primed to continue its strong support for the Houthis. The rebels show no signs of halting attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

“The Iranians are looking for places where they can impact,” Cooper said, indicating the maritime attacks allow Tehran to “impact without attribution.”

Therefore, the US Navy and allies will likely have to maintain a strong presence around the Red Sea to deter future rebel assaults. But ending the attacks ultimately requires negotiating an end to Yemen’s long, devastating civil war.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post