Iran helping Houthis determine which ships ‘more lucrative’ to target: US

A senior US diplomat said Iran is helping the Houthis determine which ships are “more lucrative targets” in the Red Sea as the Yemeni group attacks commercial and military vessels in response to what it says is the Gaza war.

“The sense we have is overwhelmingly that Iran is pushing on an open door here with the Houthis, aiding, abetting, sharing intelligence, helping them target ships, determining which are the more lucrative targets,” US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said in a recorded interview.

The Houthis have attacked or threatened international and commercial shipping over 40 times since Nov. 19, 2023, according to the Pentagon.

They say they are targeting ships going to and from Israel. But they have targeted commercial vessels that have nothing to do with Israel as well as US and British warships in the region.

Lenderking traveled to the Gulf region this week to look at ways of stopping the Iran-backed Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the State Department previously said.

He will meet with regional counterparts to discuss de-escalation, stop the ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, and renew focus on securing a durable peace for the people of Yemen.

Ahead of his trip, the US diplomat spoke to the Washington-based Middle East Institute about the situation in Yemen and the Houthis.

“Again, we see the very, very negative role that Iran is playing in the region by fanning this conflict,” Lenderking said.

He added that the Houthis were not only impacting average Yemenis, but they were “hurting peace in Yemen.”
“This kind of activity is driving donors away,” he said.

Lenderking revealed that diplomatic efforts were “being made to try and find a climb down for the Houthis that would enable (the) situation to improve and to move away from the kinetic aspect.”

He also said, “We need to see serious de-escalation in Gaza” and that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a diplomatic swing through the region, “is working very hard on that.”

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