May 16, 2022

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US-led task force to stop Iranian weapons from reaching Yemen

The United States is seeking to reassure Saudi Arabia and the UAE by forming a naval task force to prevent the smuggling of weapons that reach the Houthi rebels and their smuggling from Iran.

The US Navy announced that it is working to form a new multinational task force that will target arms smuggling in the waters around Yemen. In the country, the Houthis, after overthrowing the regular government, have been fighting for nearly seven years against a Saudi-led coalition, and to a lesser extent openly against the United Arab Emirates. Rebels receive weapons smuggled from the Pasdaran. In the past few weeks there has been Signs of constructive dialogue It may lead to an end to hostilities, but hopes remain limited because the Iranians have used the conflict to launch proxy attacks against the two rival countries.

Now the situation between the geopolitical blocs in the region – the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran and the Sunni monarchies in the Gulf – has partially improved, opening up spaces for dialogue, but Houthi activities follow a personal agenda as well as military aid. . From the pasdaran, sent by members who derive interest from the continuation of the various forms of existing conflict.

Missiles and drones have been launched several times at Saudi and Emirati cities, and this is an element of deep concern as it recreates the insecurity of the two kingdoms. An insecure environment does not facilitate business and the geostrategic centralization that Abu Dhabi and Riyadh intend to be between the present and the future. For this reason, they have repeatedly asked the United States, its main allies, to increase forms of assistance for defense and security.

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But the Biden administration draws a hard line with the two countries as well regarding the war in Yemen, from which Washington has withdrawn because during the clashes the Houthis were not the only ones violating rights.

With the new task force, the Americans, via the Pentagon, are trying to reassure Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – who fear the effects of the US disengagement in the region. More military support comes after the past few months Missile and drone attacks Against the Gulf countries also intensified to quality goals affected. The The United States has already sent other Patriot systems.

Vice Admiral Brad CooperThe commander of the Fifth Fleet (which covers the Middle East geographically), stated that the task force, as of next Sunday, will ensure the presence of forces and a deterrent position along the Red Sea, in the triocratic node in Bab al-Mandab, and on the Gulf of Aden.

“These are strategically important waters that require our attention,” Cooper said in a telephone interview with reporters, adding that human and drug trafficking would also be targeted.

The waters around Yemen are a major gateway to global trade, including oil supplies, and ships have been targeted in the past by the Houthis, as well as other forces. They represent the rise from the East to Europe, they are the link between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, that is, between the two strategic quadrants of the United States and Europe. More than a decade ago, increased naval patrols helped reduce pirate attacks on merchant ships sailing along those routes.

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As a US official explained to Reuters The waters between Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen are known as “smuggling routes” for weapons destined for the Houthis. According to Cooper, the task force will increase operational capabilities against arms smuggling and thus reduce Yemenis’ ability to move.

The new naval force that will be the US Navy assembled should consist of a unit ranging from two to eight ships taken up by Combined Naval Forces, a group of 34 countries based in Bahrain and created with the functions of combating terrorism and piracy. It is commanded by Cooper and already has three other task forces in nearby waters operating in the Arabian Sea and along the Persian Gulf.

(picture: Combined Maritime Force)