Riyadh – The US Navy has vowed to ensure the free flow of shipping in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea after Iranian threats to disrupt the waterways.
Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said Iran’s activities across the region are “promoting instability” that is “affecting the region significantly” through its backing of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Bloomberg reported.
“The US and our partners stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” he said on Sunday.
The commander made the comments as he announced a series of exercises this month with regional and global allies as part of the US 5th Fleet Theater Counter-Mine and Maritime Security Exercise. One of the exercises will take place in Djibouti, near the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait which marks the entrance to the Red Sea. The waters in the Strait have been threatened by the Houthi militia in Yemen, which controls part of the Red Sea coast. The Iran-backed group have carried out several attacks targeting international shipping.
Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf if it is stopped from exporting its own oil.
The US is set to impose a second wave of sanctions in November that will target the Iranian energy sector, including the sale of crude to international customers.
The sanctions are being reimposed after Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal between Iran and international powers earlier this year.
The deal sought to curb Iran’s atomic program in exchange for an easing of the sanctions that had crippled the country’s economy.
Trump criticized the deal for doing little to stop Iran’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.