The U.S. Navy announced today, Wednesday, that it is setting up a new multinational task force in partnership with U.S. allies in the region to patrol the waters of the Red Sea.
Attacks attributed to Houthi militants backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran have recently intensified in the Red Sea, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the fifth navy of the U.S.-based navy, refused to directly name the Houthis in Yemen when announcing the decision at a news conference.
The waters of the Red Sea between the Suez Canal in the north and the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the south, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from the African continent, are one of the targets of the Houthi rebel attacks.
"If we look at it from a broad perspective, this area is actually the main artery of the world's fuel supply," Admiral Cooper said. "This area is so large that we can not do it alone and we will work with our regional allies in the best way."
This special operations unit consists of 34 countries and will operate under the command of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.
The U.S. Fifth Fleet currently has three separate task forces aimed at tackling piracy and other security issues in the region, including in the waters of the Persian Gulf.
The new unit will begin operations on Sunday and will be joined by the USS Mount Whitney, a special command ship that was part of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in Europe and Africa.
Admiral Cooper added that the Special Operations Unit, numbering between two and six warships, will fight against the smuggling of raw materials, drugs and humans.
The U.S. Navy and independent experts believe the weapons sent by Iran, some of which have been seized so far, are being sent to Houthi rebels on the same naval routes.
Meanwhile, the extremist Islamist organization a-Shabab in Somalia is using coal smuggling in the region to fund itself. The region is also one of the routes of illegal immigrants from Africa to Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.
The Red Sea is an important shipping lane for transporting fuel, raw materials and other goods, and the mines in the region's waters pose a danger to the entire world, in addition to Saudi Arabia. Mines thrown into the sea move by wave motion in different seasons in different directions.