The US Navy assures that Iran is “directly involved” in the Houthi bombing against ships in the Red Sea

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Brad Cooper speaks at an event at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/John Gambrell, File)

Iran is “very directly involved” in attacks on ships by Yemen’s Houthi rebels during Israel’s war against Hamas, the Associated Press reported Monday. The Associated Press The top commander of the US Navy in the Middle East.

vice Admiral Brad CooperThe head of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet did not specify whether Tehran had led individual Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but acknowledged that Iran-linked attacks now only threaten the Persian Gulf and its straits. Have moved ahead with the insertion. Waters from Hormuz to the entire Middle East.

“Clearly, the actions of the Houthis, perhaps in terms of their attacks on merchant shipping, are the most significant we have seen in two generations.”he told the AP in a telephone interview. “The mere fact that they are attacking the international community; So, I think the international response that you’ve seen”,

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cooper’s comments. Houthi leaders in Yemen’s capital Sanaa could not be immediately contacted.

Since November, the Iran-backed Houthis have launched at least 34 attacks Against shipping through waterways leading to Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital route for energy and cargo coming from Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Galaxy Leader cargo ship was attacked in the Red Sea

The Houthis, a Shia rebel group that has controlled Sanaa since 2014 and has been at war with the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s exiled government since 2015, link their attacks to the war between Israel and Hamas. However, The ships they targeted have increasingly weak, or nonexistent, ties to Israel.

In the last days, The United States has launched seven rounds of airstrikes against Houthi military facilities, targeting rebel-controlled airports and suspected missile launch sites. The pace of Houthi attacks on shipping appears to be slowing for now, as the United States and its allies have increased their naval patrols in the area.

However, risks to the global economy remain as many ships avoid that route for longer voyages around the southern tip of Africa. This means less revenue for Egypt through the Suez Canal, a vital source of foreign exchange for the country’s troubled economy, as well as higher shipping costs that could fuel global inflation.

When Cooper took command of the 5th Fleet in 2021, threats to shipping focused primarily on the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of all traded oil passes. A series of attacks on Iran and the seizure of ships by Tehran followed the breakdown of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

In his interview with AP, the Navy commander admitted Threat from representatives of Iran And the distribution of their weapons extended from the Red Sea to the ends of the Indian Ocean. The United States has blamed Iran for recent drone attacks on shipping.And last week a US-owned cargo ship was attacked by the Houthis in the Gulf of Aden.

Iran has not been directly involved in fighting against Israel or the United States since the war in Gaza began on October 7. However, Cooper said Iran is directly encouraging Houthi attacks on shipping.

In recent days, the United States has launched seven rounds of airstrikes against Houthi military facilities. Europa Press/Contact/Mach2 Alexia Morelos/US Navy

“What I would say is that Iran is clearly funding, it is providing resources, it is providing supplies and it is providing training,” Cooper said. “They are obviously very directly involved. There is no secret there.”

Cooper described the attacks on ships in the Middle East as the worst since the so-called tanker war of the 1980s. It culminated in a one-day naval battle between Washington and Tehran, and also saw the United States accidentally shoot down an Iranian passenger airliner, killing 290 people.

At the time, U.S. warships escorted Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf and the strait after the ships were damaged by Iranian mines in the area. Cooper told the officers They had no existing plans to re-flag the ships and escort them beyond Yemen.

“Instead, the United States and its allies use “zone defense,” and from time to time we switch to one-on-one,” he said.

Cooper’s reference to tensions dating back more than three decades underscores how uncertain the situation in the Middle East has become as concerns of regional conflict have grown over a war between Israel and Hamas.

He spoke to the AP on the sidelines of a drone conference in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Under its command of the 5th Fleet, the naval force has raised a fleet of drones, Task Force 59, to strengthen its patrolling of the region’s waterways.

The US seized a shipment of Iranian weapons destined for the Houthis near Somalia. Two Navy SEALs died in this incident. centcom

Today, a variety of drones provide the Fifth Fleet with coverage across approximately 5.10 square miles (000.25 square kilometers) of Middle Eastern waters that the Navy would otherwise ignore, Cooper said. This helps in their efforts to stop suspicious shipments of drugs and weapons.

This month, the US Army They seized fragments of Iran-made missiles and other weapons from a ship headed towards the Houthis Two Navy SEALs went missing in a raid. U.S. Forces Central Command said Sunday it now believed the SEALs were dead.

Although he did not directly say that drones in his fleet played a role in the seizure, Cooper hinted at it. “They are specifically designed to conduct interception and seizure operations,” he said. And he added: “There’s no noise in it.”

Cooper’s command is scheduled to end with the arrival of Rear Admiral George Wyckoff in Bahrain in February, He said naval and merchant ships still faced a serious threat from the Houthis as they prepared to depart.

“We need a decision by the Houthis to stop attacking international merchant ships. Period,” Cooper said.

(With information from AP)

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