US-Iran Tensions Over Targeting Cargo Ships Raise Concerns In The Middle East

In a recent development, Iran has issued a stern warning to the US regarding the likely targeting of two cargo vessels, the Saviz and Behshad, in the Middle East. The vessels have been suspected of serving as the forward operating bases for Iran’s commandos, raising fears of escalating tensions in that region.

US and UK Launch Airstrikes in Yemen
The warning from Iran came through shortly after the US and the UK launched a massive airstrike campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The strikes had targeted six provinces that were held by the Houthis, including Sanaa, the capital. The US reportedly described hitting the underground missile arsenals and launching helicopters and sites that were used by the rebels.

Iran’s Increasing Unease over the US Strikes
Iran’s statement regarding the Saviz and Behshad signals growing unease over the recent US strikes in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria that targeted militias that the Islamic Republic backed. The strikes were in retaliation for killing three US soldiers and wounding dozens more in Jordan, stemming from the Israeli war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Cargo ship
Representation Image

The Houthi Reaction and the US’ Ongoing Warnings
Though the US claims to have struck essential opposition assets, the Houthi rebels failed to offer an estimate of the damage brought about by the US attacks. Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a spokesperson for the Houthi military, said the strikes will not deter Yemeni soldiers from supporting the Palestinians in their fight against Zionist occupation and crimes. Both David Cameron, the British Foreign Secretary, and Lloyd Austin, the Defence Secretary of the US, warned the Houthis of the repercussions of escalating the attacks on naval vessels and international shipping.

Saviz and Behshad: Suspected Spy Positions
The Saviz and Behshad are registered as commercial cargo vessels with a Tehran-based company, which the US Treasury had sanctioned. Both ships have been loitering off Yemen in the Red Sea for years, suspected of serving as spy positions for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. In 2017, Saudi Arabia described Saviz as a weapons transfer point and maritime base for the Guard.

Iran’s Alert and the US Reaction
Iran’s regular army referred to the Saviz and Behshad as floating armouries in a video message and extended a warning against potential terrorist actions that would strike these vessels. The statement held those accountable for future international hazards and highlighted the possible threats to international marine routes and security. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, currently stationed in the Middle East, stayed quiet and did not comment about the threat.

Prior Attacks on Saviz
The Saviz has been targeted; its hull suffered substantial damage in 2021 from what was likely a mine explosion. After the event, which is believed to have been planned by Israel as part of a larger shadow war between Israel and Tehran in the wake of the breakdown of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran was compelled to return the vessel home.

Growing tensions in the Middle East have been highlighted by Iran’s warning over the possible targeting of the Saviz and Behshad vessels. Iran’s worries that its purported forward operating bases are being targeted by the US and ally aircraft raise the possibility of further escalations and possible conflicts.

Reference: One India

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Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

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