Iran has sent a warship to the Red Sea amid escalating tensions in these waters, through which 30% of global maritime trade crosses. Since mid-November, Houthi militants from Yemen – backed by Iran – have been putting maritime trade in check with attacks on commercial ships, in response to the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. Tension reached a new phase last weekend, when US helicopters killed ten Houthi militants in an attempt to repel an attack on a container ship owned by the Danish giant Maersk. Washington assured that he had responded to a distress call from the boat, which had been fired upon by the Houthis, without causing injuries or material damage. Specifically, the Danish company had suspended trade through this maritime route for days, like dozens of other companies, to avoid attacks by the Yemeni militias, but decided to resume it after the United States launched a coalition of forces to protect the passage of ships through this route. sea.

A Houthi delegation met with officials in Tehran after the US attack, as revealed by the Ap news agency. Official Iranian media have not given details of the mission, although they revealed that in addition to the Alborz ship, Iran would also have sent the Bushehr warship . It is not the first time that Tehran has embarked on the waters of the Red Sea. Since 2009 it has sailed in these waters to secure sea routes and combat piracy.

The Houthis, who control northern Yemen and the Red Sea coast after nine years of civil war, are one of the Iranian-backed groups that have launched attacks in support of Hamas. Since November the militant group has attacked the shipping of companies linked to Tel Aviv and fired missiles and drones at Israel. Washington recently declassified a report showing Iran’s alleged involvement in operations against maritime commerce in the Red Sea. The Houthis have shown no intention of ending hostilities and have warned that if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Gaza and Israel stops its offensive, their attacks in the Red Sea will not cease “even if the United States mobilizes the entire world,” they noted. .

Tehran, for its part, has rejected requests from the United States and the United Kingdom to end its support for the Houthis. Aside from patrols through the Red Sea to repel militia attacks, Washington would even be considering preemptive strikes on military installations in Yemen. UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on Monday that London was ready to take “direct action” to “deter threats to freedom of navigation” in the Red Sea. “If we do not protect the Red Sea, we risk emboldening those who seek to threaten elsewhere, including the South China Sea and Crimea,” Shapps warned in an article in the Daily Telegraph.

In the last month seven of the world’s ten largest shipping companies, including BP and Hapag-Lloyd, have been forced to suspend Red Sea crossings due to escalating tensions. Some companies have opted for other routes, which involve an additional cost of about $5,000 per container and more days of navigation. The international community fears that this crisis will cause an increase in oil prices and produce shortages of certain items produced in Asia, due to the difficulty of transporting them.

So far oil prices had not wavered. However, with the announcement of the dispatch of an Iranian warship to the Red Sea, Brent crude oil rose above $78 a barrel, after experiencing declines in the previous three sessions.