US Navy vows to protect Red Sea and Arabian Gulf amid Iran threats

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet, said the US Navy would ensure free navigation for shipping in the region's waterways. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018

US Navy vows to protect Red Sea and Arabian Gulf amid Iran threats

  • Vice Admiral Scott Stearney says US Navy will ensure the free flow of shipping in the Gulf and Red Sea
  • US Navy to hold a series of exercises in the region's waters this month

JEDDAH: The US Navy has vowed to ensure the free flow of shipping in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea after Iranian threats to disrupt the waterways.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said Iran’s activities across the region are “promoting instability” that is “affecting the region significantly” through its backing of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Bloomberg reported.

“The US and our partners stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” he said on Sunday.

The commander made the comments as he announced a series of exercises this month with regional and global allies as part of the US 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise. One of the exercises will take place in Djibouti, near the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait which marks the entrance to the Red Sea.  The waters in the Strait have been threatened by the Houthi militia in Yemen, which controls part of the Red Sea coast. The Iran-backed group have carried out several attacks targeting international shipping.

Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf if it is stopped from exporting its own oil.

The US is set to impose a second wave of sanctions in November that will target the Iranian energy sector, including the sale of crude to international customers.

The sanctions are being reimposed after  Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal between Iran and international powers earlier this year.

The deal sought to curb Iran’s atomic program in exchange for an easing of the sanctions that had crippled the country’s economy.

Trump criticized the deal for doing little to stop Iran’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.

UN draft resolution calls for Yemen truce, two weeks to unblock aid

Updated 9 sec ago

UN draft resolution calls for Yemen truce, two weeks to unblock aid

UN, NEW YORK: A UN draft resolution on Yemen presented to the Security Council on Monday calls for an immediate truce in the port city of Hodeidah and sets a two-week deadline for removing all barriers to humanitarian aid, according to the draft seen by AFP.
Britain circulated the draft to the 14 other council members after hearing a report on Friday from a UN envoy working to arrange peace talks in Sweden to end the nearly four-year war.
A vote on the measure has yet to be scheduled.
The proposed resolution would significantly ratchet up the pressure to find a negotiated settlement in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation.
The UN considers Yemen the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis and has warned that without a stop to the fighting, the country will face one of the worst famines in decades.
The draft text calls “on the parties to introduce a cessation of hostilities in Hodeidah governorate, to end all attacks on densely populated civilian areas across Yemen and to cease all missile and UAV attacks against regional countries and maritime areas.”
The Red Sea port of Hodeidah, which is controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia and is a key point of entry for aid and imports to Yemen, has seen heavy fighting over the past weeks.
The text calls on warring sides to “facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian food, water, fuel, medicine and other essential imports across the country, including by removing within two weeks of the adoption of this resolution, any bureaucratic impediments that could restrict such flows.”
The truce would go into effect on the day of the adoption of the resolution.
Under the proposed measures, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would report to the council within two weeks on the cessation of hostilities.
The council said it was ready to “consider further measures” to support a political solution the war, the draft said.
The measure calls for a large injection of foreign currency into the economy through the central back to support the collapsing currency and for salaries of civil servants, teachers and health workers to be paid within one month.
It supports a series of confidence-building measures aimed at paving the way to peace talks including the release of prisoners, the re-opening of the airport in the rebel-held capital Sanaa to commercial flights and strengthening the central bank.
Both sides are urged to engage with UN envoy Martin Griffiths, who is due to travel to Sanaa this week to finalize arrangements for the peace talks that he hopes to convene soon.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government said Monday it will take part in the talks, hours after the Houthi leader, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, said he was ready to freeze military operations.
The Saudi Arabian-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis in order to restore to power Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognized by the UN.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrived Monday in Iran for the first time to discuss Tehran’s role in Yemen, meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.