US Navy to Disrupt Iranian Weapons Shipments to Yemen
By William Tucker
Chief Correspondent for In Homeland Security
Following reports that an Iranian flotilla approached Yemen, unnamed sources in the U.S. Navy stated that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt approached the same waters. The sources suggested that the carrier, and other U.S. vessels in the region, might disrupt Iranian shipments of weapons to the Houthi rebels in the war-torn nation.
Just last week, the U.N. Security Council voted to impose an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels thus giving international backing to interdiction efforts. The U.S. typically maintains one or two carriers in the Persian Gulf region – known as the 5th Fleet Area of Operations – along with various supporting vessels such as LHD/LHA and guided missile cruisers.
Though the U.S. naval presence in the region is large, Washington will likely solicit support from allied navies. This type of patrol is already common in the region as international counter-piracy operations have been ongoing for years. Although this type of naval activity is common, it comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-Iranian negotiations. Both nations claim their respective operations in the Middle East are occurring without regard to the nuclear negotiations, but such assertions belay reality.
Negotiations between Washington and Tehran are a complex and interconnected web that discusses the elements of Iran’s nuclear program, and yet sees leaders of both nations discussing other issues such as restoring diplomatic relations and respecting each nation’s regional influence.
The U.S. has also called on Iran to release four U.S. citizens accused of various crimes, most recently a Washington Post correspondent jailed on accusations of espionage. If the recent report of U.S. naval deployments off the coast of Yemen is indeed accurate, then we’ll see another layer of tension develop in the midst of diplomacy.
In spite of all this distrust and animosity, the U.S. and Iran are negotiating because they see a benefit in doing so, but for now they are worlds apart on many issues of importance. This most recent claim of dueling naval deployments has significantly increased the tension.
Boarding military naval vessels in international waters is problematic. Misunderstandings between rival navies in crowded waters might produce some negative repercussions and may also undermine the ongoing difficult attempts at diplomacy.