Iran ‘stopping ship to Yemen would spark a fire’: Washington warns against a ‘stunt’

Iran's Kilo class submarine. Source: US Navy

Iran’s Kilo class submarine.
Source: US Navy

Tehran, Iran (nsnbc) – Senior Iranian military and government officials warned against attempts to stop an Iranian cargo vessel, flanked by Iranian naval vessels bound for Yemen’s port of Hodeida. Saudi and U.S. officials stress that international aid is being organized by the UN and via Djibouti. So far the war in Yemen has claimed about 1,400 lives and led to shortages of food and other vital commodities.

Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff, General Masoud Jazayeri appeared on the TC channel Al-Alam late Tuesday, saying that attempts by the Saudi-led coalition to block the Iranian cargo vessel bound for Hodeida would spark a fire. Jazayeri added:

“I bluntly declare that the self-restraint of the  Islamic Republic of Iran is not limitless. … Both Saudi Arabia and its novice rulers, as well as the Americans and others, should be mindful that if they cause trouble for the Islamic Republic with regard to sending humanitarian aid to regional countries, it will spark a fire, the putting out of which would definitely be out of their hands.”

Iranian Navy officials said on Tuesday that the Iranian Navy would protect the cargo ship while Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham addressed the press saying that Iran would not permit any country that is involved in the Yemen war to inspects its cargo.

The cargo vessel, that is being flanked by Iranian naval vessels left Iran on Monday. Tehran states that the ship is carrying a cargo of food, medicine, tents, blankets as well as journalists and rescue workers.

Last week nsnbc has obtained both testimony and evidence about the presence of Iranian “military advisers” among Houthi militants. Arguably, that makes Iran as much a belligerent party to the war in Yemen as Saudi-Arabia or any other involved nation or any of the conflicting parties on the ground in Yemen.

Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri said on Tuesday that no ship would be permitted to reach Yemen without prior coordination with the coalition and that all humanitarian aid should be delivered through the United Nations.

U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, for his part, stressed that the U.S. military is monitoring the cargo ship, that there is no need for an Iranian naval escort and that aid should be delivered to Djibouti from where the UN coordinates and distributes aid. Warren added that he must “warn Iran against planning some sort of stunt”.

Yemen is located at two of the world’s most important waterways; the Persian / Arab Gulf and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Control over the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is largely equivalent to control over the Suez Canal. Its key location has made Yemen subject to geopolitical chess games and civil wars for decades.

During the cold war these conflicts were waged under a capitalist vs socialist discourse that has subsequently been substituted by a sectarian one. Geopolitical maneuvering about control over the two shipping lanes remains as the root cause.

CH/L – nsnbc 13.05.2015

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