Navy Chief Sounds Alarm On Iran’s Role In Attacks

In Israel’s conflict with Hamas, the Houthi rebels of Yemen have attacked cargo ships, and Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the senior U.S. Navy officer in the Middle East, has said that Iran is directly involved in these attacks.

Cooper admitted that Iranian-affiliated assaults affect more than just the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz; they now pose a threat to Middle Eastern seas as a whole.

The Houthis are a Shiite rebel organization that has been fighting a Saudi-led coalition that supports Yemen’s exiled government since 2015. They have occupied Sanaa since 2014 and have linked their actions to the Israel-Hamas conflict. But it seems like the ships they’ve been aiming at have fewer and fewer ties to Israel if any at all.

Air bases controlled by the Houthis and locations thought to be used for missile launches have been the targets of seven rounds of airstrikes by the United States. Nevertheless, concerns about the global economy persist because many ships sail around Africa’s southern tip instead of through the Suez Canal. This practice led to higher shipping costs, which could increase global inflation and lower revenue for Egypt’s struggling economy through the Suez Canal.

In 2021, when Cooper assumed command of the 5th Fleet, the Persian Gulf and its small exit, the Strait of Hormuz, were the main areas of shipping concern. The nuclear agreement between Iran and international powers collapsed, leading to a slew of strikes that Tehran claimed as coming from Iran and the seizure of ships by Tehran. Cooper said that Iran’s proxies posed a concern and that the Islamic Republic’s armament distribution stretched from the Red Sea to the furthest corners of the Indian Ocean.

Ship assaults on the Middle East, according to Cooper, are the worst since the so-called Tanker War in the 1980s when Washington and Tehran engaged in a one-day naval confrontation. In its “zone defense,” the United States and its allies occasionally switch to a one-on-one strategy.

The Ocean Jazz, a U.S.-flagged ship operated by the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based corporation Seabulk, was allegedly attacked in the Gulf of Aden, according to Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree. The assertion made by the Houthis was rejected in an online post by the 5th Fleet. Rear Adm. George Wikoff is scheduled to arrive in Bahrain in February, marking the end of Cooper’s command. However, as he gets ready to go, he points out that the Navy and merchant shippers continue to confront significant danger from the Houthis.