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Published On: Thu, Apr 23rd, 2015

Saudis end Yemen airstrikes, Iran sends warships, US to counter

Iran’s foreign minister has called for “urgent humanitarian assistance” in Yemen after a Saudi-led coalition ended air strikes against Houthi rebels. Now the Shiite nation has sent warships into the region and the US is countering with naval ships as well.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Saudi move was “positive” and urged talks and the formation of a new government.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia has accused Shia-led Iran of backing the Houthis, something Tehran denies.

A fleet of Iranian warships arrived near the southern coast of Yemen on Wednesday in a move likely to add greater tension in a developing U.S.-Iranian standoff in the region, according Iranian military leaders.

U.S. Navy photo by Airman Ricardo J. Reyes

U.S. Navy photo by Airman Ricardo J. Reyes

An Iranian fleet including a destroyer warship and a helicopter-carrying warship arrived in the waters off the southern tip of Yemen on Wednesday, according to Iranian state-controlled media.

The warships will “protect [Iran’s] cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates,” according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

The United States and other countries fear Iran is using these cargo ships to deliver weapons and other deadly hardware to opposition forces in Yemen.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf blasted “misreporting” in the news that U.S. ships in the region were tasked with monitoring or intercepting the Iranian ships nearing Yemen.

“I just want to be very clear that the purpose is not to do anything in terms of those Iranian ships,” Harf said during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon. “There are all these other ways we have of making clear to the Iranians what they should and shouldn’t do. Absolutely. So let’s not get all spun up about something that is not accurate.”

Harf, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren focused instead on the talking point that maintaining open seas and the “freedom of navigation” were the main goals for the U.S. ships positioned near Yemen.

Obama also gave “freedom of navigation” as the reason for U.S. ships being sent to the region, but he tied it directly to the Iranian convoy.

“What we’ve said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that’s a problem,” Obama said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “And we’re not sending them obscure messages, we send them very direct messages about it. My hope is generally that we can settle down the situation in Yemen.”

The president’s comments were more in line with what officials and other outlets after the ships were deployed Monday: that the U.S. ships were moved closer to Yemen to monitor and dissuade the Iranian convoy.

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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