Iran Caution Against US-Backed Red Sea Force, ISNA Reports

Iran’s Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned that a proposed US-backed multinational task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea would face “extraordinary problems.” Ashtiani’s comments came after the United States said it was in talks with other countries to set up a task force following a spate of attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen on ships in the Red Sea. “If they make such an irrational move, they will be faced with extraordinary problems,” Ashtiani told the official Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA). “Nobody can make a move in a region where we have predominance,” he said, referring to the Red Sea. Ashtiani did not specify what measures Iran was prepared to take in response to the setting up of a US-backed Red Sea task force. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters last week that Washington was in talks with “other countries” over forming a “maritime task force … to ensure safe passage of ships in the Red Sea,” but did not give further details. Yemen’s Houthis, which are aligned with Iran, have waded into the Israel-Hamas conflict by attacking vessels in vital shipping lanes and firing drones and missiles at Israel more than 1,000 miles from their seat of power in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. American and French navies have strengthened their presence in the Red Sea to protect vessels from the risk of seizure or attack by the Houthis.