The Houthis have become a major disruptive factor of the world trade in the unfolding of the war in the Middle East.
It’s always been known that Iran was bankrolling and supplying the rebels, Shiite Muslims like them, turning them from minor players into the well-armed fearsome fighters they have become.
Just last month, the White House declassified information ‘related to Iran’s backing of the Houthis, including the intelligence and targeting support’.
But a new report unveiled today (15) reveals that commanders and advisors from Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are on the ground in Yemen, and are playing a major role in the attacks on commercial traffic in the Red Sea.
“The IRGC has stationed missile and drone trainers and operators in Yemen, as well as personnel providing tactical intelligence support to the Houthis, U.S. and Middle East officials told Semafor. The IRGC, through its overseas Qods Force, has also overseen the transfer to the Houthis of the attack drones, cruise missiles, and medium-range ballistic missiles used in a string of strikes on Red Sea and Israeli targets in recent weeks, these officials said.”
The Houthis are attacking to aid the Palestinian militant group, Hamas in its war with Israel.
Today they hit a U.S.-owned container ship in the Red Sea but caused no significant damage.
“The IRGC’s overall presence inside Yemen is overseen by Gen. Abdul Reza Shahlai, a Tehran-based commander whom the Trump administration attempted to assassinate in a 2020 drone strike inside Yemen, U.S. and Mideast officials said. American intelligence believes Shahlai is deeply involved in Tehran’s overseas terrorist operations through his role as the Qods Force’s deputy commander.
This includes a role in overseeing an unsuccessful 2011 Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir, at a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Shahlai, who’s been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, also helped oversee IRGC attacks against U.S. military personnel in Iraq over the past two decades. The Department of Justice offered $15 million in 2019 for information related to the commander’s operations and networks.”
The IRGC’s ground presence in Yemen, and furthermore its participation in the strikes against Western targets, could unleash a wider war in the Middle East.
Biden is intent on avoiding a military conflict with Tehran, but has started hitting Houthi targets inside Yemen last week.
There is, apparently, the possibility of the U.S. also killing or wounding IRGC personnel.
The Houthis are a central piece in the ‘Axis of Resistance’, with Palestinian Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Iraqi and Syrian militias.
“’Iran has the luxury of really fighting, what I would call, a hidden-hand operation, with various Iranians on the ground, Qods Force people, on the ground [in Yemen]’, retired Gen. Kenneth McKenize, a former commander of U.S. forces in the Mideast, said last week at a forum on the Red Sea crisis. ‘First of all, they fought a major war against Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and now they’re choking world shipping in the Bab-el-Mandeb [Strait] at a very low, very low price for Iran’.
The question now is whether the price is set to rise for Iran. Current and former U.S. military and intelligence officials have described to me what is essentially a blood feud between Washington and the IRGC that stretches back decades. Shahlai has played a central role in this covert war.”