Iran sends warships to Gulf of Aden, increases tension in region
by Daily Sabah
IstanbulMar 16, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 16, 2017 12:00 am
Iran announced on Tuesday that it will send the "45 Group" of the Iranian Naval Force to the Gulf of Aden amid tense relations with the United States. "Iranian warships are going to the Gulf of Aden and Bab al Mandab in an effort to maintain the Iranian merchant ships," Tasnim news agency reported.
The persistent attempts by Iran to assist and provide the Yemeni militia with weapons has led to increasing tension and the Iranian navy has stepped up its provocative actions against U.S. forces in the region.
The move came after tension caused by the continued friction between Iranian gunboats and U.S. forces located in international waters. The fast-moving Iranian vessels, which came close to a U.S. Navy ship accompanied by the British Royal Navy in the Strait of Hormuz, forced them to change course last week. After two separate incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon blasted the "unprofessional" behavior of the Iranian navy in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. accuses Iran of arming and financing the Houthi rebels who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition aiming to reinstall Yemen's internationally recognized government. Iran denies arming the Houthis.
U.S.-Iran relations have become more hostile than ever as the White House takes an aggressive posture toward Tehran over test-firing a ballistic missile that could raise tensions in the already chaotic region.
Iran, which has been accused of exposing sectarian fault lines in the region, especially in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, tried to soften its rhetoric as Rouhani said there should be greater unity between Shiites and Sunnis and that they had coexisted side by side peacefully for hundreds of years. The main motivation behind the visit seems to be Trump's policies and his eagerness to better relations with Saudi Arabia, which was abandoned in the era of former U.S. President Barack Obama. During the Obama era, Iran enjoyed the opportunity to fill the vacuum in the Middle East after the White House abandoned its traditional allies, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Apparently, the Trump administration has not been tolerant of Iran, contrary to the former administration. Referring to Iran as "the number one terrorist state," the U.S. president said the Middle Eastern country supplies money and weapons to terrorist groups. The Trump administration hit the ground running, reimposing sanctions against Iran in its first weeks in office, and also instating restrictions against those who are complicit with Tehran.