Blinken Admits Iran Behind 'Biggest Attack' Targeting US Ships, But There's No Plan

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jan 11, 2024 - 04:05 PM

Washington has ratcheted its anti-Iran rhetoric following what's been widely described as the single biggest Houthi missile and drone attack on vessels in the Red Sea since Oct.7.

The Tuesday night attack saw up to 24 missiles and drones sent against international shipping lanes in the southern part of the Red Sea, and crucially directly against a US warship, as we detailed previously. The Pentagon said that three destroyers that are part of Operation Prosperity Guardian took part in shooting down the incoming barrage.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has in fresh comments charged that ultimately Iran was behind this "biggest attack" by the Yemen-based Houthi rebels. He warned "there will be consequences" if the aggression continues. "We had the biggest attack just yesterday, aided and abetted by Iran," Blinken told reporters at Bahrain International Airport on Wednesday.

Blinken in Bahrain, via Reuters

"We've been clear with more than 20 countries that if these continue, as they did yesterday, there will be consequences," Blinken continued. "The support [Iran is] providing to the Houthis needs to stop. It's not in their interest for the conflict to expand." But he offered nothing in the way of a plan or strategy of response.

Blinken is still on his tour of Middle East countries, which earlier included meetings with Israeli leadership in Tel Aviv, in efforts to contain the spread of the Gaza War.

The US top diplomat in the comments stopped short of saying that Iranian officers are directly assisting on the ground in Yemen. Washington's accusations against Tehran regarding the Houthis have for years highlighted indirect support, including financial, weaponry, and intelligence assistance. 

Blinken said these Red Sea attacks are aided by Iran with "technology, equipment, intelligence, information, and they are having a real-life impact on people," as cited also in VOA.

Yet the White House still doesn't seem to have a strategy to ensure the safety of commercial transit through the Red Sea. The Biden administration has been accused of dithering and of losing deterrence, as the Houthis continue attacking with impunity, also openly boasting of targeting US Navy vessels. 

For example, soon after Tuesday's attack, The Associated Press wrote as follows:

The Houthis, a Shiite group that has held Yemen’s capital of Sanaa since 2014, later claimed responsibility for the attack in a televised statement by rebel spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree. Saree claimed the attack “targeted an American ship that was providing support to the Zionist entity,” without offering any further information. He also described it as an “initial response” to American troops sinking Houthi vessels and killing 10 rebel fighters last week.

Many observers have highlighted the current US policy Catch-22: Washington wants de-escalation in the region, but is simultaneously unwilling to seriously press Israel to implement ceasefire in Gaza...

Meanwhile the Houthis have vowed in a fresh statement to keep up and expand the attacks, per Bloomberg:

Yemen Houthi rebels “will confront US aggression” and no US attack will remain unanswered, the group’s leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi says in a televised address. 

Central Command has at this point confirmed, "This is the 26th Houthi attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea since Nov. 19." This has included the launch of multiple dozens of missiles and drones at this point. While US destroyers have intercepted many of them, the US military has yet to strike back directly on Houthi positions.