Washington: The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, the top United States general said on Tuesday.
Under the plan, which has only been finalised in recent days, the US would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition. Allies would patrol waters near those US command ships and escort commercial vessels with their nation’s flags.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, articulated those details to reporters following meetings on Tuesday about it with acting US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Japan will stay in close contact with the United States and other related nations and continue to make efforts for stability and the reduction of tension in the Mideast.
Kotaro Nogami, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, one of Washington’s key global allies, declined to comment directly when asked about Dunford’s comments. “We are quite concerned about mounting tensions in the Mideast, and guaranteeing safe passage in the Hormuz Strait is vital to our nation’s energy security, as well as to the peace and prosperity of international society,” Nogami told a regular news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.
“Japan will stay in close contact with the United States and other related nations and continue to make efforts for stability and the reduction of tension in the Mideast.”
Although US officials had publicly discussed plans to safeguard the Strait, Dunford’s disclosure that the coalition would also seek to bolster security in the Bab Al Mandab off Yemen appeared to be a new element.
The US, as well as it’s Gulf allies, have long fretted over attacks by Iran-aligned Al Houthi fighters in the narrow Bab Al Mandab waterway, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.