US and Allies Discuss Formation of Multinational Task Force to Tackle Houthi Attacks in Red Sea

US and Allies Discuss Formation of Multinational Task Force to Tackle Houthi Attacks in Red Sea

Iran’s Defence Minister Warns of Challenges Ahead

The United States, along with its allies, is engaged in talks to establish a multinational task force aimed at addressing the escalating attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea. The move comes in response to a series of recent incidents involving the Houthi rebels in Yemen, prompting concerns over the safety of shipping routes in the region. However, Iran’s Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani has issued a warning, stating that such a task force would encounter significant challenges. This article explores the ongoing discussions and the potential implications of the proposed multinational task force.

US-led Coalition Task Force to Safeguard Shipping Routes

The United States recently announced its intention to collaborate with other nations in establishing a maritime task force to ensure the safe passage of ships in the Red Sea. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan revealed that talks were underway with various countries, but did not provide further details. The coalition task force would involve warships from at least four countries: the US, France, the United Kingdom, and Israel. The inclusion of multiple nations would bolster the number of warships and enable them to target key sites within Yemen, such as launch sites, command facilities, and missile storage locations.

Houthi Attacks Threaten Red Sea Shipping Routes

The Houthi rebels, aligned with Iran, have been launching attacks on ships passing through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a strategic chokepoint connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. This narrow passage is the world’s third-largest chokepoint for oil shipments, with over six million barrels passing through daily, primarily en route to Europe. The attacks on international shipping have intensified, culminating in rocket and drone strikes on unarmed commercial cargo ships and heavily armed naval vessels from several countries. In response to these threats, the US and French navies have already bolstered their presence in the Red Sea to protect vessels from potential seizure or attacks by the Houthis.

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History of Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea

The Houthi rebels have a history of targeting ships in the Red Sea. In January 2017, during their conflict with a Saudi-led coalition, they attacked the frigate Al Madinah using three remote-controlled unmanned explosive boats, forcing the Royal Saudi Navy to withdraw from Yemeni waters. Encouraged by their success, the Houthis launched attacks on two Saudi oil tankers in May and July 2018, using Iranian-built cruise missiles similar to those employed in recent incidents. Additionally, neutral-flagged ships were also targeted during the same period.

Potential Consequences and Iran’s Response

The proposed multinational task force could have significant implications for the region. By pooling resources and coordinating efforts, the coalition aims to enhance maritime security and safeguard vital shipping routes. However, Iran’s Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani has warned that such a move would face “extraordinary problems.” Ashtiani emphasized Iran’s dominance in the Red Sea region and suggested that any attempt to challenge it would be met with significant challenges.

US Considerations and Targeting Houthi Funding Networks

In response to the seizure of the Galaxy Leader, a ship attacked by the Houthis, the US has reportedly been contemplating designating the Houthi movement as a “terror group” due to their involvement in piracy in international waters. The US has also targeted the funding networks supporting the Houthis. These measures aim to curtail the group’s ability to carry out attacks and disrupt the flow of resources that sustain their activities.

Conclusion:

As the US and its allies explore the formation of a multinational task force to address the escalating attacks by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, Iran’s Defence Minister has issued a warning about potential challenges. The proposed coalition seeks to bolster maritime security and protect vital shipping routes in the region. However, the Houthis’ history of targeting ships and Iran’s assertion of dominance in the Red Sea present complex dynamics that must be navigated. The outcome of these discussions and the subsequent actions taken will have significant implications for regional stability and the safety of international shipping.

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