The Yemeni conflict is fast evolving from a Houthi insurgency against the Abdullah Salah regime in Sanaa to a broad regional conflagration drawing in Saudi Arabia and Egypt as major players and increasingly the United States, whose involvement is building up into a direct confrontation with the rebels' sponsor, Iran.
Military and intelligence sources report that over the weekend, the Aegis class cruiser USS Chosin was designated the flagship of Combined Task Force 151 which is patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.
Responding to this signal, Iran's navy commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari announced Monday, Nov. 23, that Ghadir-class submarines would be joining the four Iranian warships already in position opposite the Yemeni coast. He did not say how many subs were to be deployed.
Our military experts describe the Ghadir as a midget submarine which Tehran claims is silent enough to elude the most advanced US radar. This is the first time those miniature craft will be deployed outside the Persian Gulf and in direct action against the US navy, as well as against Saudi naval craft. Both are blockading Yemeni ports against Iranian arms deliveries to the Yemeni rebels.
US and Israeli naval experts are watching out with great interest for the Iranian midget submarines, which make up the first line of Iran's coastal defenses and will be making their first operational appearance in foreign waters.
The US and Iran depict the naval buildup in the Red Sea as part of their anti-piracy mission, but our military sources stress that Tehran is determined to bring its arms sealift safely to Yemen's Red Sea shore for delivery to the Houthi insurgents, while the Americans are equally resolved to help the Saudi navy keep them out.
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