March 1, 2021
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Shifting axis
Yemen war and its impact on Gulf of Aden stability In view of escalating tension in Yemen, the Gulf of Aden is witnessing a strong surge of rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia and if not timely intervened then it may lead to a naval blockade against Iran in near future. Iran seems to be aware of the situation. Last month, twice and possibly a third time, US Navy ships on patrol in the Gulf of Aden were attacked by sophisticated cruise missiles. The American warships were not hit, but they did have to fire SM-2 and Sea Sparrow defensive missiles and use Nulka anti-ship missile decoy countermeasures to disable the incoming weapons. The Houthi attack utilized cruise missiles-variants of Silkworm missiles, weapons Iranians are known to use. In response, the US ships destroyed three radar stations along the Red Sea Coast in Yemen. The radar sites helped guide the missiles and they too were operated by Iranians. The American warships-two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Mason and USS Nitze, as well as the amphibious transport ship USS Ponce-are operating in the Gulf for two reasons. First, they are ensuring the safe passage of merchant ships through a critically important shipping lane: the Bab el-Mandeb strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden (3.8 million barrels of oil a day pass through the chokepoint on Yemen’s southwestern coast, making it the fourth busiest transit point for oil on earth). At the northern end of the Red Se
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