Iran dismisses US claims it is involved in Houthi ship attacks

AFP , Sunday 24 Dec 2023

Iran's deputy foreign minister on Saturday dismissed US accusations that Tehran was involved in attacks by Yemeni rebels on commercial ships, saying the group was acting on its own.

 Red Sea
File photo - In this photo provided by the Royal Navy, an image shows the HMS Diamond firing its Sea Viper missile to engage and shoot down an aerial drone over the Red Sea. AP


Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels in the Red Sea, linked with Israel, in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, under Israeli brutal attacks.

On Friday, the White House released US intelligence claiming that Iran provided drones, missiles, and tactical intelligence to the Houthi, who control vast parts of Yemen including the capital, Sanaa.

"The resistance (Houthi) has its own tools... and acts in accordance with its own decisions and capabilities," said Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy foreign minister.

"The fact that certain powers, such as the Americans and the Israelis, suffer strikes from the resistance movement... should in no way call into question the reality of the strength of the resistance in the region," he told Mehr news agency.

Earlier on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Washington had previously asked Iran to advise Yemeni rebels not to act against US and Israeli interests in the region.

"We have made it clear to the Americans that these groups have decided, based on their interests, on how to support Gaza," said Amir-Abdollahian during a conference in Tehran in support of Palestinians.

"We have not and will not order them to stop the attacks."

The Gaza Strip has endured 11 weeks of Israeli air and ground genocidal war that killed more than 20,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry.

Iran has repeatedly warned of a widening conflict, and last month Amir-Abdollahian said the intensity of the war has rendered its expansion "inevitable".

President Ebrahim Raisi has said Iran sees it as "its duty to support the resistance groups" but insisted that they "are independent in their opinion, decision and action".

Last month, Tehran dismissed as "invalid" Israel's accusations that Houthi rebels were acting on Tehran's "guidance" when they seized a Red Sea ship owned by an Israeli businessman.

Despite the presumed findings presented by the White House, there have been doubts among some US and allied policymakers on whether the Houthis are acting at the behest of Iran.

One diplomat from a US ally who follows the region noted that Lebanon's Hezbollah -- which has much closer ties with Iran -- has been comparatively restrained in the face of US warnings including a show of naval might in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Of Iran's proxies in the region, the Houthis have the weakest link to Tehran. And it is hard to see how the attacks serve their or Iran's interests," the diplomat said.


* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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