Iran’s Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani has warned that a planned United States-backed multinational task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea would face “extraordinary problems”.
Ashtiani’s comments came after the US said last week it was in talks with other countries to set up a task force following a spate of attacks by Houthis in Yemen on ships in the Red Sea, Iranian state media reported on Thursday.
“If they make such an irrational move, they will be faced with extraordinary problems,” Ashtiani told Iranian state media.
“Nobody can make a move in a region where we have predominance,” he said, referring to the Red Sea.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters last week that Washington was in talks with “other countries” over forming a “maritime task force to ensure safe passage of ships in the Red Sea”, but did not give further details.
Washington’s 12-nation coalition task force would reportedly involve warships from at least four countries’ navies: the US, France, the United Kingdom and Israel.
With a coalition, the number of warships would increase and they could attack targets inside Yemen like launch sites, command facilities and missile storage sites.
In response to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, following the October 7 Hamas offensive, Yemen’s Houthis have been attacking vessels sailing through the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean – a narrow passage that is the world’s third-largest choke point for oil shipments after the straits of Hormuz and Malacca.
More than six million barrels pass through here every day, mainly on their way to Europe.
Attacks on international shipping escalated with the capture of the Galaxy Leader in November and then culminated in rocket and drone attacks against unarmed commercial cargo ships and heavily armed naval vessels of several countries.
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