Iran deeply involved in planning Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping — White House

Iran has been "deeply involved" in the planning of attacks by Houthis against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, the Biden administration said on Friday, intensifying its rhetoric against Tehran amid the growing crisis surrounding global shipping efforts.

Citing newly declassified American intelligence, White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement that Iran is providing weapons, funding, training and “tactical intelligence” to enable the strikes along the critical sea corridor.

“Iranian support throughout the Gaza crisis has enabled the Houthis to launch attacks against maritime targets, though Iran has often deferred operational decision-making authority to the Houthis,” Watson said.

“Since 2015, Iran has transferred advanced weapons systems to the Houthis, including Unmanned Aerial Systems, Land Attack Cruise Missiles, and ballistic missiles that have been used in attacks against maritime vessels, including commercial vessels with no known links to Israel, and in attacks against Israel since October,” she revealed.

Without ongoing Iranian support, “the Houthis would struggle to effectively track and strike commercial vessels,” Watson said.

Iran, which has long backed the Houthis, has provided unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles to the Houthis, including those used in recent strikes on commercial and military vessels and attempted attacks on Israel, according to the US assessment.

“We have no reason to believe that Iran is trying to dissuade the Houthis from this reckless behavior,” Watson said.

The Houthi campaign has prompted a growing list of companies to halt operations in the major trade route.

The US has established a naval coalition to protect the Red Sea global shipping lane. However, the Biden administration has not yet taken the step to reverse its decision to declassify the Houthis as a terror organization. US officials say Washington is still considering the move.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Greece announced that it was joining the US-led naval coalition.

Australia also announced Thursday that it would send 11 personnel to support the coalition, dubbed Operation Prosperity Guardian, but no warships or planes.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said that Australia military needs to keep focused on the Pacific region.

The task force announced by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday initially included Britain, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.