By: Harold Hutchison, Daily Caller News Foundation
Iranian paramilitary forces are assisting Houthi rebels in Yemen by providing real-time intelligence about merchant ship traffic in the region, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Western security officials.
Information from an Iran-controlled vessel based in the Red Sea provides the tracking information on vessels in the Bab El-Mandeb strait to the rebels, who have conducted a series of attacks in recent weeks on merchant ships passing through the body of water, according to the Wall Street Journal. One of the attacks hit a Norwegian merchant ship with an anti-ship missile.
“The Houthis don’t have the radar technology to target the ships,” a Western security official told the WSJ. “They need Iranian assistance. Without it, the missiles would just drop in the water.”
“It’s strange to attribute everything to Iran as if it were the world’s strongest power,” a spokesperson for the Houthis told the Wall Street Journal. “We have intelligence facilities that have proven themselves over the years of aggression against us.”
Iran is also known to be a major backer of Hamas.
The Pentagon announced plans for a multi-national task force to combat the attacks on merchant shipping as Reuters reported that several companies re-routed their vessels to avoid the strait.
“Nothing that the Houthis do happens without Iranian complicity,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News host Martha MacCallum. “This spy vessel is not a surprise. The fact that the armaments, the capabilities that they have are coming out of Yemen isn’t because of an indigenous capability in Yemen, it’s because of Iranian technology.”
The rebels have launched multiple attacks on merchant vessels and have attempted other attacks, including one thwarted when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney shot down 14 drones fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen Saturday.
“We can get complete military dominance there. We understood this risk. We took down ships, showed the weapons to the world coming out of Iran,” Pompeo told MacCallum. “If you placate them, if you say we’re going to stop the drones from hitting our ships but don’t impose a cost on them, it’s certainly the case that they will continue their aggressive actions and at some point they’ll kill more Americans.”