The US government has once again blamed Iran for Houthi drone and missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea, according to a senior White House official.
Reuters reported Thursday that deputy national security adviser Jon Finer has said that the Biden administration thinks the IRGC is behind the attacks, helping with planning and action.
"We believe that they are involved in the conduct of these attacks, the planning of them, the execution of them, the authorization of them and ultimately they support them," he told the Aspen Security Forum.
This is the first time the IRGC is directly linked to Houthi operations by a US official.
US National Security spokesman John Kirby took Iran to task on Wednesday for destabilizing the region by providing financial and military assistance to extremist militant groups, such as Yemeni Houthis.
“We know that the Houthis are supported by Iran, not just politically and philosophically but, of course, with weapon systems,” he stressed.
The Biden administration has been trying to avoid conflict with Iran ever since Hamas forces attacked Israel, fearing that the war on Gaza could expand and set the whole region ablaze.
A Politico report Wednesday suggested that senior Biden administration officials were against targeting Houthis for now, despite the marked increase in Houthi activities in the Red sea, which has forced two US warships to engage militarily.
On Wednesday, the USS Mason intercepted and shot down a drone launched from a Houthi-controlled area. Three days earlier, USS Carney shot down three drones after it received distress calls from vessels that had come under attack from Iran-backed Houthis in the Red Sea.
The Houthis say their attacks are in response to the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, which began after Hamas rampaged Israel on 7 October, killing a thousand people.
On Thursday, the US treasury sanctioned 13 people and entities over claims they provided “tens of millions of dollars” in Iran-linked funds to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
“The Houthis continue to receive funding and support from Iran,” the under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism Brian Nelson said. “Treasury will continue to disrupt the financial facilitation and procurement networks that enable these destabilizing activities.”
Iran of course denies involvement in the missile and drone attacks by the Houthis on Israel and vessels in the Red Sea. The official line from the regime spokespersons is that militant groups linked with Tehran act independently.
Earlier in the week, a senior adviser to Ali Khamenei said the same about Hamas – that the group had the means necessary to plan and execute operations, notwithstanding the fact, he suggested, that Iran would help the group militarily if it had access to Gaza Strip.
Asked about the future of the conflict and the hopes for a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Kamal Kharrazi told Aljazeera, “this is their own business, of course. We have our own positions but we’re not going to dictate our positions to others.”
The former foreign minister of the Islamic Republic reiterated, however, that the regime didn’t “believe in” a two state solution. “Israel itself is not supporting this plan… and it’s not practical,” Kharrazi said, “We believe the final solution must be one state, composed of Muslims, Christians and Jews.”
The Islamic Republic has for long maintained this ambiguous, sit-on-the-fence politics, sending mixed messages on their intentions and their actions. In recent years, this has been largely helped by the Biden administration’s leniency, which many in Washington say has emboldened the regime and its proxies in the region.
“It [is] President Biden who refuses to respond to the recent attacks on American troops by Iran in Syria, in Iraq, in the Red Sea,” Senator John Kennedy told Fox News Thursday.
“The sad reality is that our enemies - China, Russia, North Korea, Iran - are not scared of President Biden. And for good reason," he said. “The Biden administration would rather debate whether man can breastfeed than protect the interests of this country.”