Iranian warship Alborz, foreground, prepares before leaving Iran’s waters (File)
The Pentagon began assembling a maritime coalition in the Red Sea last month led by US Navy’s Combined Task Force 153 and ships from the UK, Denmark, and Greece amid a spate of Houthi hijackings as well as missile and drone attacks targeting Israeli-affiliated commercial ships traversing the strategic body of water.Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations has warned the United States against any “adventurism” that could further destabilize the already fragile security situation in the Red Sea.“[Iran] issues a stern warning against any US adventurism that could endanger regional peace,” Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani said Tuesday in a letter directed to the US and its allies, a week after Iran’s Navy deployed a cruise missile-armed warship in the region.Characterizing the spate of Houthi ship seizures and attacks against Israeli-owned and affiliated tankers in the Red Sea as the consequence of Israel’s US-backed “genocidal war” in Gaza, Iravani called on the United Nations Security Council to see the “root causes” of the crisis, “uphold its responsibility to address” them, and “compel” Tel Aviv to end its aggression.The diplomat went on to dismiss the “baseless accusations” made by US, Israeli and British UN representatives at a UNSC meeting last week accusing Iran of supporting the Houthis directly in carrying out their attacks, saying that the allegations are “unsubstantiated and lack evidence.”“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always placed great importance on maritime security and freedom of navigation and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to upholding its international obligations and maintaining peace and security in the region,” Iravani said.Last Wednesday, US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Christopher Lu accused Iran of deep involvement “in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea,” suggesting “the Houthis would struggle to effectively track and strike commercial vessels” without Iranian support.
The Islamic Republic has made no secret of its ideological affinity for the Yemeni Shia militia group, regularly listing the Houthis among the countries and groups it says are part of the so-called ‘Axis of Resistance’ to US and Israeli hegemony in the region. At the same time, Iranian officials have indicated repeatedly that their support for the Houthis does not include direct military assistance – in part due to the severe maritime blockade put in place against Yemen since 2015 and a Gulf State coalition’s operations to try to oust them from power.
WorldRed Sea Crisis is Direct Reflection of Gaza Violence – Russian Envoy to UN4 January, 11:54 GMTThe Houthis began their campaign of ship hijackings, drone and missile attacks in November, in solidarity with Palestinians after their previous efforts to strike directly at Israel were largely foiled by Israeli and US air and missile defenses. The militia has assured that its campaign against commercial shipping targets only Israeli-owned vessels, plus cargoes heading to or from the Jewish State. At the same time, the Houthis have warned that they will reserve the right to strike ships belonging to any country taking part in the US’ new military coalition, “Operation Prosperity Guardian.”Houthi attacks and threats have prompted a dozen-and-a-half commercial shipping majors to halt their operations through the Red Sea, with Israeli insurance costs climbing through the roof and global shipping costs jumping by as much as 170 percent as vessels are forced to take the long way around the southern coast of Africa.Amid the formation of the US-led coalition, and a deadly incident December 31 in which ten Houthis aboard small boats attempting to board a commercial vessel were killed in a battle with US helicopters, Tehran deployed the Alborz, an Iranian Navy frigate armed with long-range anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine warfare equipment, in the Red Sea in a bid to cool regional tensions.Meanwhile, the US-led naval coalition has so far failed to gain much traction, with only three of the 20 members listed by Pentagon officials in December sending actual warships to assist the US (the UK, Denmark, and Greece, respectively), with France, Italy, and Spain pulling out and other countries including the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, and Canada committing only handfuls of shipless seamen.WorldUK Finance Minister Says Attacks on Red Sea Ships May Impact National Economy6 January, 12:17 GMT