Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The USS Theodore Roosevelt (pictured) and escort cruiser USS Normandy are on their way to the waters off Yemen to conduct maritime security operations.
US media are saying that the warships are being deployed to stop Iran from supplying weapons, in particular ground-to-air missiles, to Houthi rebels who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition.
Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, denied reports that ships were on a mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Yemen. However, US Navy officials said that the US ships are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi militias in Yemen.
Although a convoy of Iranian ships appears to be heading toward Yemen, any inspection of the ships would require the agreement of their commanding officer.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest refused to comment specifically on any Navy movements in Yemeni waters, but said the United States had concerns about Iran's “continued support for the Houthis.”
“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen,” he said. “That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country. These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran's destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”
This view is at odds with President Barack Obama’s attitude towards Tehran over Iran’s nuclear programme and the de facto US-Iranian alliance against ISIS.
However, it does fit with Washington’s desire to show support for its traditional Saudi ally and warn the Iranians not to go too far.