Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in Red Sea attacks raises concerns

Four regional sources and two Iranian sources, speaking to Reuters, disclosed that IRGC commanders and advisers are providing critical support to Houthi forces, including intelligence, know-how, and data to identify vessels destined for Israel.

Sources reveal that commanders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group are actively participating in directing and overseeing Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping in Yemen. Four regional sources and two Iranian sources, speaking to Reuters, disclosed that IRGC commanders and advisers are providing critical support to Houthi forces, including intelligence, know-how, and data to identify vessels destined for Israel.

Iran, known for arming, training, and funding the Houthi militia, reportedly increased weapons supplies following the conflict in Gaza. The support includes advanced drones, anti-ship cruise missiles, precision-strike ballistic missiles, and medium-range missiles, aiding Houthi attacks that began targeting commercial vessels in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The U.S. has accused Iran of deep involvement in planning Red Sea operations, asserting that Iranian intelligence is crucial for Houthi attacks on ships. Washington has previously stated that Iran’s support for the Houthis is evident, emphasizing the role of IRGC commanders in the conflict.

Iran has denied its involvement in Red Sea attacks, with Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani consistently rejecting accusations. Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam also denied any Iranian or Hezbollah participation in directing the attacks.

Analysts suggest that the Red Sea attacks align with Iran’s broader strategy of mobilizing its regional Shia network to project influence and threaten maritime security. The conflict has triggered U.S. and British airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, expanding the theatre of conflict linked to the war in Gaza.

Abdulaziz al-Sager, director of the Gulf Research Center, argues that the Houthis lack the means and resources to independently target ships, reinforcing suspicions of external assistance. Sources reveal a clear presence of IRGC and Hezbollah members in Yemen, supervising operations, training, and assembling smuggled missiles.

The Houthis claim to be supporting Hamas by striking ships linked to Israel or heading to Israeli ports. The attacks have disrupted global shipping through the Bab al-Mandab strait, prompting international concerns.

While Houthi spokesperson Abdulsalam acknowledges a relationship with Iran, he insists Yemen’s decisions are independent. However, a security official close to Iran suggests that Iran provides guidance and advice on shipping routes and ships to the Houthis.

As tensions develop in the region, the involvement of Iranian and Hezbollah commanders raises concerns about the broader geopolitical consequences. The Red Sea attacks showcase Iran’s strategy of expanding its regional influence through proxy militias, posing a potential threat to maritime security beyond the immediate conflict zone.