US to set up naval task force near Yemen — Analysis

US Navy stated that warships would intercept weapons sent to Houthi rebels.

On Wednesday, the US Navy declared that it will create a task force to patrol the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden waters. The new task force is connected via the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The force will target shipments of weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who launch drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.

This unit, which will include between 2 and 8 warships, will form part of the 34-nation Combined Maritime Forces. It will also be part of an existing organization with three task forces that conduct anti-piracy patrols in close waters.

“These are strategically important waters that warrant our attention,”Reporters were told by Vice Admiral Brad Cooper about his command of the US Fifth Fleet.

The force will be used to combat the drug and people trafficking, and also the Houthis ability to acquire drones or rockets that can be used against Saudi Arabia and UAE.

“We’ll be able to do it more vibrantly and more directly than we do today,”Cooper spoke.

Historic transfer of power in Yemen

The Houthis took responsibility last month for hitting an oil plant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor condemned Jeddah’s attack and other Houthi cross-border threats. “acts of terrorism.”

A UN-brokered truce that came into effect in this month states that Saudi Arabia has to follow fuel vessels into Hodeida, a Red Sea port. Riyadh had previously established a blockade around the port. It claimed that it was necessary in order to stop weapons smuggling. The UN banned weapons supply to Houthis.

Since 2015, the Saudi-led Arab state coalition is fighting Houthis in Yemen for ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Both the US and the alliance accuse Iran of arming rebels. Tehran refutes this accusation.

Along with their allies France and UK, the US are providing intelligence and weapons for Saudi Arabia.

A UN November report estimated that the death toll due to the conflict in Yemen would reach 37,000 by 2021. According to the UN, nearly 60% of all deaths resulted from hunger, lack of safe water and diseases.

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