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U.S. Deploys More Ships to Yemen, Warns Iran to Stop Arming Rebels

The United States has deployed two more naval vessels to Yemen, “sending a message” to Iran to stop arming Houthi rebels there, The New York Times reported Monday.

“This is really about sending a message,” said an American official who declined to be identified as discussing a continuing military operation. “It is a message to our partners that we are in this and willing to support. It is a message to the Iranians that we’re watching.”

White House officials acknowledged that they were compartmentalizing policy on Iran by confronting the country’s aggressive posture in the region even as American diplomats tried to complete an agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, sharply criticized Iran’s transfer of arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen as “destabilizing” and dismissed as “a little ironic” calls from the Iranian foreign minister in a New York Times opinion article for a diplomatic solution to the fighting there. Iran, Mr. Earnest said, was continuing to “supply arms to one party to that dispute so that the violence can continue.”

CNN reported the the American ships may have been sent to the region to assist Saudi Arabian-led forces confronting a Iranian convoy of arms headed towards Yemen.

U.S. warships from the carrier group of the USS Theodore Roosevelt are joining allied vessels from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other partner nations prepared to intercept a convoy of 7-9 Iranian vessels believed headed for Yemen. The allies are prepared to board Iranian vessels if they proceed into Yemeni territorial waters.

The Roosevelt aircraft carrier and the guided missile destroyer USS Normandy were the two ships the Navy moved into the waters off the coast of Yemen on Sunday. At this stage, there are nine U.S. naval ships operating off the coast in Yemen.

In Congressional testimony earlier this month, a State Department official said that the United States would look to enforce an arms embargo against Iran.

[Photo: wochit news / YouTube ]