The 'proxy' war is escalating very rapidly. As AP reports, Navy officials confirm that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is headed to Yemeni waters to intercept an Iranian weapons shipments. Just as we warned 10 days ago, the probability of a major escalation over the latest proxy Middle Eastern civil war escalated substantially when Iran parked two warships off the Yemeni coast.
U.S. Navy officials say the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen and will join other American ships prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi (HOO'-thee) rebels fighting in Yemen.
The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of Iranian ships may be headed toward Yemen to arm the Houthis.
The Houthis are battling government-backed fighters in an effort to take control of the country.
There are about nine U.S. ships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ship movement on the record.
As the following Naval update map shows, the two Iran warships will now be located in the immediate vicinity of not only two US aircraft carriers, CVN-71 Teddy Roosevelt and CVN-70 Vinson, but well as the big-deck amphibious warship Iwo Jima which as reported before is providing marine support should the situation demand it.
All of this means the odds of a naval "accident" involving one or more warships in the Red Sea just went up substantially.
The U.S. Navy has sent an aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser into the waters near Yemen, officials said on Monday, heightening the U.S. maritime security presence as concerns mount over Yemen's escalating conflict.
The U.S. Navy sent the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escort cruiser, USS Normandy, from the Gulf into the Arabian Sea on Sunday. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, denied reports the ships were on a mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Yemen.
The ships will join seven other U.S. warships in the waters near Yemen, which is torn by civil strife as Iranian-backed Houthi rebels battle forces loyal to the U.S.-backed president.
The U.S. Navy said it had increased its presence in the area because of the instability. It said in a statement the purpose was to "ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe."
The movements come as U.S. officials closely monitor an approaching convoy of seven Iranian ships believed to be headed toward Yemen with unknown cargo aboard.
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged concerns about arms shipments from Tehran to the Houthis.
"We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other forms of support to the Houthis in Yemen," Earnest said.
"That’s the kind of support that will only contribute to greater violence in that country, a country that’s already been racked by too much violence."
One U.S. official said the presence of the U.S. warships off Yemen give American decision-makers options for action in the event the situation deteriorates.
The United States has deepened intelligence cooperation with Saudi Arabia as it carries out airstrikes in Yemen and is providing logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition. But it is stopping short of directly participating in the strikes.
As Iranian ships steam towards Yemen for a possible showdown with Saudi Arabia, the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dismissed what he termed “American threats” as “stupid lies.” In a to Iranian forces, Khamenei pointed to comments by U.S. security officials this week, to the effect that “America is leaving all its options on the table, and on the other hand they say they want us to stop defending ourselves. This is a stupid comment.”
“The Iranian nation has proven that it always defends and protects itself with all its might when it is under attack,” said Khamenei. “It stands against all illogical invaders, and united it is like an iron fist.” On Sunday, Khamenei raised the security level in Iran, calling up and deploying reserves throughout the country, in the the country is attacked, he was quoted as saying.
Khamenei was apparently responding to comments by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter . “We're assisting the Saudis to protect their own territory and to conduct operations that are designed to lead ultimately to a political settlement to Yemen,” said Carter.
Meanwhile, seven to nine Iranian frigates are reportedly making their way to the Yemen coast, and there are concerns that they will try to defy the naval blockade Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, has imposed on Yemen. U.S. officials said that they were not planning to get involved, but in the event that a battle breaks out, the U.S. will “examine the situation carefully,” officials were quoted as saying.
Speaking Sunday, Khamenei said that the United States and “the Zionist entity” were “the greatest threats to the world and the region.” Turning his attention to the framework on nuclear work drawn up in Lausanne several weeks ago, Khamenei said that Iran would “never” allow international inspectors into its military , for fear that “spies” will “steal Iran's secrets and compromise our security.”
The top commander of the Iranian Armed Forces said the US military planes are making regular flights to and from ISIL-controlled cities in Iraq to supply the terrorist group with weapons, money and food.
"We have received reports that the US planes visit the ISIL(-controlled) airports," Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi told reporters on the sidelines of military parades held in Tehran on Saturday morning to mark the Army Day, Fars news agency reported.
"The US shouldn't supply weapons and money to ISIL and then apologize and say that it has made a mistake. The Americans say that they want to confront the ISIL (but) we haven’t seen any practical steps, only reconnaissance and surveillance operations," he added.
Warning of a “cruel wave of terrorism” that would sweep Europe, the US and all mankind in the near future, Firouzabadi said that people everywhere, including in the US and Europe, should try to fight terrorists instead of providing them with weapons and huge sums of money that has made ISIL the best-paid militant group around.
"If the US is honest in its statements that it has not created the ISIL, it can fight against it easily and we hope that the US and British governments will fight against the ISIL even for the sake of their own nations."
In Washington, meanwhile, lawmakers in both the Republican and Democratic parties are now calling on the Obama Administration to provide better accounting for the weapons the US is sending to Iraq, and which often wind up in the possession of the country’s Shiite militias.