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Old 04-18-2015   #1
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Default Naval drama(s) off Arabia (catch all)

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U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran's support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war.

Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials.

Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/23...-towards-yemen
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Old 04-18-2015   #2
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AdamG,

The one thing Yemen and its people do not need is more weapons. Earlier this week I spotted a story that it had more than enough.

The UNSC has passed another resolution on the Yemen, which roundly condemns the Houthis and ex-President Saleh. It includes an arms embargo and authorises members to enforce this. UNSC REsoultion 2216 refers, paased 14th April 2015, which links to the full text in PDF:http://www.un.org/en/sc/documents/re...ons/2015.shtml

The USN has already started to stop vessels according to media reports:http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-boar...-found/204352/
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Old 04-18-2015   #3
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Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.
Russia's recent outreach to Iran and their agreement to sell them weapons may have emboldened them. If that is the case, it will obviously have a significant impact on relations between Iran's new proxy Iraq and Saudi, and Saudi's coalition partners also. All we need now is for Israel and Russia to get involved overtly, we could have another example of a relative small event leading to a larger conflict, much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered WWI.
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Old 04-18-2015   #4
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Russia's recent outreach to Iran and their agreement to sell them weapons may have emboldened them. If that is the case, it will obviously have a significant impact on relations between Iran's new proxy Iraq and Saudi, and Saudi's coalition partners also. All we need now is for Israel and Russia to get involved overtly, we could have another example of a relative small event leading to a larger conflict, much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered WWI.
Notice that the Iranian and Russia estimates to the alleged "weakness" of a potential US reaction might in fact be accurate.

I have been saying this is the weakest NSC and President in years.

Putin has already assumed the US will not respond in the Ukraine so why would they engage in Yemen?
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Old 04-18-2015   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Russia's recent outreach to Iran and their agreement to sell them weapons may have emboldened them. If that is the case, it will obviously have a significant impact on relations between Iran's new proxy Iraq and Saudi, and Saudi's coalition partners also. All we need now is for Israel and Russia to get involved overtly, we could have another example of a relative small event leading to a larger conflict, much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered WWI.
The ME is now shaking itself out and forming new alliances along the Sunni Shia divide--might in fact be a good thing.

reports say that #Hamas is evaluating whether it should go with #Iran or the Sunni axis around #Saudi-Arabia

Enough,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said, addressing thousands of his party’s supporters gathered in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “It's about time Muslims and Arabs raise their voices and tell Saudi Arabia enough is enough."

April 17, 2015

The rally took the verbal escalation to a higher level, especially after former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement responded harshly to Nasrallah’s previous speeches and remarks by the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen.

There are serious fears in Lebanon that the tension surrounding Yemen might shake the already vulnerable security of the country that has been without a president since May 2014.

Hariri tweeted shortly after Nasrallah’s speech, accusing him of “falsification and deception” regarding the Yemeni conflict, noting that Hezbollah’s Yemen rhetoric is “imported from Iran” and does not serve Lebanon's interest.

“Following in the footsteps of Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has excelled in falsification, deception and the shows of intimidation and sectarian mobilization,” said Hariri via Twitter, adding “Insulting the late King Abdul Aziz will put the insulters in the line of fire, from their biggest authority in Tehran to the smallest one in Dahieh."

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/orig...#ixzz3XguqBjtF

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Old 04-18-2015   #6
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I'm haven't been to Yemen, and don't claim any expertise on it. It does seem from my limited reading though that Saudi is at a minimum not targeting AQAP, and at worst may be supporting them. If true, this presents a wicked problem for the U.S. when it comes to strategic direction regarding Yemen and of course the larger region. David posted elsewhere that some SOF thought the Houthis killing AQAP was a good thing and we shouldn't interfere, but I didn't see any reporting yet on that happening. There was a time when two our enemies were fighting each other we saw that a positive, at least for the short term.

You say we don't have a strategy. That may or may not be true, but before you have strategy, at least IMO, you have to have strategic goals/ends/objectives. What do you think they should be?
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Old 04-19-2015   #7
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"AQAP" is primarily a western label for Saudi insurgents taking sanctuary in Yemen. In Yemen there also exists a very reasonable revolutionary insurgency between the two families who compete for control, and all the rest who suffer under both.

There is little here for the US to worry about, unless of course we come in as an obstacle between populations and their governments. There is much here that needs to be sorted out. But not much that is our business to intercede upon.

We have allowed the Al Saud family to become insanely wealthy, and protected them from having to address the reasonable concerns of the majority of their population. I see little reason to protect them from the unreasonable response of the minority.
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Old 04-19-2015   #8
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
"AQAP" is primarily a western label for Saudi insurgents taking sanctuary in Yemen. In Yemen there also exists a very reasonable revolutionary insurgency between the two families who compete for control, and all the rest who suffer under both.

There is little here for the US to worry about, unless of course we come in as an obstacle between populations and their governments. There is much here that needs to be sorted out. But not much that is our business to intercede upon.

We have allowed the Al Saud family to become insanely wealthy, and protected them from having to address the reasonable concerns of the majority of their population. I see little reason to protect them from the unreasonable response of the minority.
http://www.latimes.com/world/middlee...ry.html#page=1

Quote:
AQAP has repeatedly attempted to smuggle sophisticated bombs onto passenger jets and cargo planes headed for the United States. U.S. intelligence considers it the terrorist network's most active and most dangerous franchise and says it has a global strategy.
Quote:
In 2013, a threat linked to AQAP prompted U.S. officials to close more than two dozen embassies and consulates around the world. This year, the group said it had planned the deadly rampage in January at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
http://www.heritage.org/research/com...grows-in-yemen

Quote:
The concerns about AQAP are for good reason.

For example, there’s AQAP’s plot to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with an underwear bomb and its attempt to ship explosive printer cartridges by air from the Middle East to U.S. addresses in 2010.

The terror group is also infamous for its English-language, online magazine “Inspire” which includes “how-to” articles for terrorist wannabes, and for Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born and educated AQAP propagandist and external ops chief.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...-qaeda-threat/

This piece makes a good point that AQAP are not the insurgents, rather they have a relationship with the insurgents. To this AQAP remains the greatest Sunni terrorist group threat against the homeland. An article well the worth the read, it provides a good run down on U.S. FID efforts in Yemen, which were actually quite effective initially.

Quote:
Now, Al Qaeda isn’t generally an insurgency organization. Look at them in Afghanistan; it was the Taliban who were the insurgents, not Al Qaeda itself. Their mandate is the rest of the world. I think in a sense, Ansar al-Sharia is almost a development of their own Taliban. And with that, you now end up with a dual threat that needs to be managed with two different sets of tools.

… If we could get the guys who really lead, really manage, really organize AQAP, if we were somehow able to get rid of them, I think Ansar al-Sharia would still be there. And you might even be able to make the case that if the Yemenis were able to get rid of Ansar al-Sharia, you might not necessarily get rid of AQAP. So they feed on each other. They support each other. They certainly are related, but they’re not identical.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 04-19-2015 at 03:42 AM.
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Old 04-20-2015   #9
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I think we're going to need some Hans Zimmer incidental music soon.

Quote:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

The deployment comes after a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last week imposed an arms embargo on the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with Russia abstaining.
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT
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Old 04-20-2015   #10
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Wild card in the mix.

Quote:
ZHOUSHAN, Zhejiang - The 20th fleet from China's navy left east China's port city Zhoushan for the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somali to escort civil ships.

The fleet is comprised of the missile destroyer Jinan, missile frigate Yiyang and supply ship Qiandaohu. It is equipped with two helicopters and staffed by dozens of special operation soldiers and more than 800 officers and soldiers.

Jinan, commissioned at the end of 2014, is engaging in its first escort mission. This is Qiandaohu's third escort mission.
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2...t_19996640.htm
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Old 04-20-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
Notice that the Iranian and Russia estimates to the alleged "weakness" of a potential US reaction might in fact be accurate.

I have been saying this is the weakest NSC and President in years.

Putin has already assumed the US will not respond in the Ukraine so why would they engage in Yemen?
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Old 04-20-2015   #12
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The Chinese already landed in Aden to take off their nationals. I wouldn't imagine this would be much more than an antipiracy mission, as listed - what exists in Yemen that China would be interested in?
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Old 04-20-2015   #13
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Default Sarejevo On Sea?

The USN has:
Quote:
seven combat ships in the waters around Yemen as the Saudi-led bombing campaign there continues.....the destroyers USS Forrest Sherman and USS Winston Churchill; the minesweepers USS Sentry and USS Dextrous; and three amphibious ships carrying about 2,200 Marines, the USS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Fort McHenry, a Navy official told The Washington Post. The USNS Charles Drew, a dry cargo ship, is also in the region.
Link:http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/c...de-continues/?


Given the diplomatic skill shown by Iran in the region for sometime now, leaving aside for a moment the alliance in Iraq, would Iranian ships actually carry weapons? What if they carry non-military cargoes, such as medical or relief supplies?


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Old 04-21-2015   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tequila View Post
The Chinese already landed in Aden to take off their nationals. I wouldn't imagine this would be much more than an antipiracy mission, as listed - what exists in Yemen that China would be interested in?
Perception (China is a Player): China has invested heavily in Africa, they want the locals to take them seriously.

Force Projection: the Chinese have three surface ships in that convoy. Think they might have slipped a sub or two into the mix?
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Old 04-21-2015   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamG View Post
Perception (China is a Player): China has invested heavily in Africa, they want the locals to take them seriously.

Force Projection: the Chinese have three surface ships in that convoy. Think they might have slipped a sub or two into the mix?
Yemen isn't in Africa. I doubt many African countries where China has an interest care about Yemen.

Here is an interesting article about Africa's relative non-importance in Chinese foreign policy circles. If there is a sub in the mix, it's likely because the military wanted to do an exercise, not some sort of mischief-making at work. That would require a much higher level of attention than Africa usually gets.

http://www.brookings.edu/research/pa...ign-policy-sun
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Old 04-24-2015   #16
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Default Sarejevo at Sea averted

WSJ reports:
Quote:
An Iranian flotilla suspected of carrying weapons bound for rebels in Yemen reversed course and appeared to be heading home, averting a potential confrontation in the Gulf of Aden, U.S. defense officials said Thursday.
Link to first paragraph only:http://www.wsj.com/articles/fresh-ai...es-1429787821?
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Old 04-29-2015   #17
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Pentagon officials say the US is monitoring the seizure by Iran of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship.

The MV Maersk Tigris was moving through Iranian waters in the Straits of Hormuz, according to the Pentagon.

Iranian patrol vessels fired warning shots across the bow of the boat, US officials said, branding the action "inappropriate".
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32503660
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Old 04-29-2015   #18
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In the chaotic web of alliances in Yemen's new conflict, China's relatively meek intervention might be overlooked. But it's a noteworthy sign of China's growing geopolitical power, which has gained a lot of attention in Sub-Saharan Africa but also extends to the Middle East. And while the evacuation may look like they are cutting their losses, it may actually serve an important strategic purpose to extend China's reach.

China's interest in Yemen goes back decades, with Beijing helping with infrastructure developments in Yemen as far back as the 1950s. In recent years, however, the relationship clearly deepened: In 2013, President Xi Jinping welcomed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to Beijing on an official visit and the two nations even vowed military cooperation. Beijing announced a $507 million loan to help develop the port of Aden that year, though some local media reports said that the loan had been suspended this year before it was due to commence.

For China, the logic behind the relationship was clear. Firstly, Yemen oil production could provide energy for China's booming economy, and China has spent over a decade investing heavily in Yemen's oil industry. Just as important, however, was Yemen's geographical location. Not only was Yemen close to the Horn of Africa, where China has a substantial economic footprint, its location by the Gulf of Aden made it a strategic location for the Suez Canal: In fact, the ships that rescued the Chinese nationals this week were part of an international anti-piracy operation in the region that China had been a part of since 2008.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...-global-power/
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Old 04-30-2015   #19
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Default Pending Naval drama off the Strait of Hormuz?

Quote:
Al Arabiya News, Reuters
Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Iran has opened fire at a U.S. cargo ship and directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported on Tuesday, citing Iranian news agencies.

Both state-owned FARS and IRNA news agencies, said the cargo ship was American, however a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the ship, the MV Maersk Tigirs, was a Marshal Island-flagged vessel and that Iranian forces had indeed boarded it.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News...-sailors-.html

Quote:
Details are still coming in, but it seems clear that the Iranian Navy seized a container ship called the Maersk Tigris that was transiting the Strait of Hormuz this morning. The ship, flagged in the Marshall Islands and owned by a Danish conglomerate, was traveling on an internationally recognized shipping route when it was approached by Iranian vessels that ordered it to “proceed further” into Iranian waters. The captain refused, and the Iranian vessels fired warning shots. The captain then “complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island,” according to a Pentagon spokesman. The Iranians have boarded the ship.

As the news of this act of piracy started to circulate, and after some confusion about whether or not the ship was U.S. flagged (it’s not), there was some discussion on social media about whether or not the United States is obligated to defend the interests of the Marshall Islands (it is) and whether or not there were any American citizens aboard (there don’t appear to be). Some of this was understandable fact finding, but some of it also seemed motivated by a desire to downplay the significance of the incident, and to diminish the expectation that the United States needs to respond, even as the Navy has already ordered a destroyer to monitor the situation.
http://freebeacon.com/blog/irans-hij...ge-to-the-usa/

Quote:
Maersk Line, the Danish shipper that chartered a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel which Iranian forces have captured, said the reason for stopping the ship could be related to a 2005 cargo case.

Maersk Line spokesman Michael Storgaard said the company learned Thursday that an Iranian appeals court had ruled Maersk must pay $3.6 million for a 10-container cargo delivered a decade ago on behalf of an Iranian company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. However, the cargo never was collected, according to Storgaard, adding it eventually was disposed of by local authorities.
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/04...-to-2005-case/

Quote:
Iran's Revolutionary Guards 'harassed' a US-flagged commercial ship just days before it seized a vessel carrying cargo and 34 sailors, it has emerged.

The two incidents have raised concerns about the security of shipping lanes in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said.

News of the first incident was revealed by the Pentagon after Iranian guards seized MV Maersk Tigris this week, by firing warning shots across the vessel's bows.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz3YoDcKYAN
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Old 04-30-2015   #20
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IRGC has used this for two reasons--to signal their discontent that Assad forces are taking beating at the hands of moderate Syrians and Islamists using a large number of TOWs and MILANs. Seems that Hezbollah has been whip lashed all over Syria and Iraq and have taken beatings as well recently.

Secondly they are signaling in two short press comments yesterday and today that once the nuclear deal is signed "sanctions" come off immediately!!

No one in DC seems to have noticed a deliberate Iranian non linear warfare concept in play being carried out by Khamenei and the IRGC.
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