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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Iran May Challenge Saudi Blockade of Yemen

Iranian warships ‘will escort Yemen-bound cargo ship’

Seven activists from US, Europe on board; US closely tracking ship heading to Yemen
Gulf News
Iranian destroyers
Dubai: Iranian warships will accompany a cargo ship bound for the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which is held by Iran-allied Al Houthi fighters, a naval commander was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Tuesday.

The Iran-flagged Iran Shahed cargo ship set sail on Monday and could be intercepted by Saudi-led coalition forces, which are blockading Yemen as part of a military campaign against Al Houthis.

Hodeida is on the Red Sea, but the ships will have to enter the Gulf of Aden to get there. They could be intercepted there or in the narrows between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It will probably take them a couple days to get there.

Hodeida, Yemen
“The US 34th fleet, which is currently in the Gulf of Aden, has special responsibility to protect the Iranian humanitarian aid ship,” Admiral Hussain Azad said, referring to a destroyer and support vessel patrolling international waters off Yemen.

The US State Department said the US is closely tracking an Iranian ship heading to Yemen, and urged "restraint".

A five-day ceasefire in Yemen’s civil war is set to take effect at 11pm (2000 GMT) to allow food and medicine into the blockaded country, which aid groups warn faces a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Saudi-led coalition has accused Iran of arming Al Houthis and routinely intercepts cargoes bound for Yemen. Last month, coalition jets bombed the runway at Sana’a airport to prevent an Iranian cargo plane from landing.

Tehran says it is sending only humanitarian aid to Yemen. Tehran lies incessantly!

Iran Shahed
The Iran Shahed vessel was sailing away from Iran’s coast into the Gulf of Oman at 1334 GMT, ship tracking data on Reuters showed.

Iran’s Fars news agency reported separately that seven activists from the United States and Europe, including from Germany, were on board the ship.

The vessel’s Tehran-based owner Valfajr Shipping, which was listed on shipping databases, could not be immediately reached for comment.