Pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to respond to Iran or its Middle East regional proxies in some way (the Houthis and Hezbollah). Not only has global shipping been forced to divert from the Red Sea amid what at this point has been dozens of drone and rocket attacks, but American bases in Syrian and Iraq have come under attack more than 100 times since mid-October, in relation to Israel's operation in Gaza.
But Tehran itself is now pressuring the White House, openly taunting Biden in relation to his support to Israel. In a Saturday statement the Iranian government threatened that the Mediterranean Sea could be "closed" due to ongoing Israeli and US "crimes" in Gaza. The threat is significant—whether they could actually ever accomplish such a thing is another question entirely.
"They shall soon await the closure of the Mediterranean Sea, (the Strait of) Gibraltar and other waterways," Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi was quoted in state media and Reuters as saying.
"Yesterday, the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz became a nightmare for them, and today they are trapped... in the Red Sea," Naqdi said
In more normal times this would be ignored and taken as a delusional threat and claim. But the reality is that already some Mediterranean ports, especially Israeli ones, are seeing their imports plummet. Still, it's unclear how exactly Iran's military would hope to accomplish 'closing' off of the Mediterranean:
This also appears a response to the Friday White House charge that Iran was "deeply involved" in planning attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, which US Navy warships on repeat occasions have responded to.
At various times the US has intercepted drones and missiles from Yemen, but has yet to attempt to hit back directly at Houthi positions.
A growing list of countries have meanwhile rejected the US plan for a large naval coalition to secure Red Sea shipping against Houthi attacks, as we reported earlier.
Reuters earlier indicated that about twenty countries have signed up for the Pentagon's new operation. However, several countries, including Australia, Spain, Italy, and France, have rejected the Pentagon's request to participate in the operation.