Iran warns US against proposed Red Sea force to protect ships

Defence Minister says US would face problems if task force was set up

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship, which was seized by the Houthis near Al Salif port in the Red Sea this month. EPA
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Iran's Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned a proposed US-backed multinational task force to protect shipping in the Red Sea would face "extraordinary problems", official Iranian media reported on Thursday.

Mr Ashtiani's comments came after the US said last week it was in talks with other countries to set up a task force after 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," Mr Ashtiani told the official Iranian Student News Agency.

"Nobody can make a move in a region where we have predominance," he said, referring to the Red Sea.

Mr 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 Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington has been 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.

The Houthis, aligned with Iran, have waded into the Israel-Gaza conflict by attacking vessels in vital shipping lanes and firing drones and missiles at Israel more than 1,600km 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 possible seizure or attack by the rebel group.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 11:28 AM