U.S. plans military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen

U.S. wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen

U.S. wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen

The US aims to form a coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in strategic Gulf waters amid fraught relations between Washington and Tehran, a top general told media on Tuesday.

The initiative was triggered last month by Trump administration concerns that Iran was behind recent attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf region.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said the Pentagon has developed a specific plan, and that he believes it will be clear within a couple of weeks which nations are willing to join the effort.

Any escorting of commercial ships would be done by military ships sailing under the flag of the commercial vessel, he said.

Iran has long threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly a fifth of the world's oil passes, if it was unable to export its oil, something President Donald Trump's administration has sought as a way to pressure Tehran to renegotiate a deal on its nuclear program.

But the U.S. proposal for an global coalition to safeguard shipping in the Strait, at the mouth of the Gulf, has been gaining momentum since attacks in May and June against oil tankers in Gulf waters.

Although US officials had publicly discussed plans to safeguard the Strait, Mr Dunford's disclosure that the coalition would also seek to bolster security in the Bab al-Mandab off Yemen appeared to be a new element.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero as a means of pressuring Tehran to agree to talks on its nuclear program.

USA officials have publicly discussed plans to safeguard the water lanes, but Dunford's remarks that the coalition would also seek to bolster security in the Bab al-Mandab off Yemen appeared to be a new element.

The narrow Bab al-Mandab connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Dunford said the United States would provide "command and control" ships but said the goal would be for other countries to provide vessels to patrol waters between those command ships. "We'll need you all to participate, your military folks", Pompeo said.

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