PortandTerminal.com, July 9, 2019
Reuters reported last night that the US Administration wants a military coalition to address the maritime threat that it feels Iran and Yemen pose to American and international security (oil) interests in the region.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday.
“We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab,”
Iran / Strait of Hormuz
Iran has long threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes, if it was unable to export its oil, something U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has sought as a way to pressure Tehran to renegotiate a deal on its nuclear program.
But the U.S proposal for an international coalition to safeguard shipping in the Strait, at the mouth of the Gulf, has been gaining momentum since attacks in May and June against oil tankers in Gulf waters. Last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone near the Strait, prompting President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off.
Yemen – Bab el-Mandeb
Bab el-Mandeb forms a vital link on the trade route between the Mediterranean and Asia. Vessels carrying goods between Europe and Asia, as well as oil from the Middle East to Europe and North America, pass through it if navigating Egypt’s Suez Canal. Bab el-Mandeb is especially important to Saudi Arabia, a key American ally in the region.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition that intervened in 2015 to try to restore the Yemeni government ousted from power by the Houthis, a rebel group backed by Iran.
As of November 2018, 6,872 civilians in Yemen had been killed and 10,768 wounded, the majority by Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Two days ago, the Saudi-led coalition announced that “the Huthis attempted to attack a commercial ship south of the Red Sea using a booby-trapped boat with explosives”. Few believe though that the Houthi’s have any real capacity to upset shipping in Bab el-Mandeb.
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