The U.S. Central Command has announced a significant seizure by the U.S. Navy. Last week, off the coast of Somalia, naval forces intercepted a vessel carrying Iranian-made ballistic and cruise missile components intended for the Houthis in Yemen.
This operation underscores the ongoing tensions and strategic maneuvering in the region involving the U.S., Iran, and their respective allies.
SEALs missing after search and rescue operation
In a related but distressing development, two U.S. Navy SEALs are currently missing.
The SEALs went overboard during the operation – eight-foot swells swept one away, and the other followed in a rescue attempt.
Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM, stated, “We are conducting an exhaustive search for our missing teammates.” This incident highlights the dangers faced by military personnel in such high-stakes operations.
Escalating military actions in response to Houthi threats
The seizure occurs in the context of escalating military actions between the U.S. and Iranian proxies in the region.
Recently, the U.S. and UK militaries launched strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, a decisive move following warnings from the Biden administration about the consequences of Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
These strikes represent an international response to the threat posed to one of the world’s most vital waterways.
U.S.-led coalition strikes target Houthi aggression in Yemen
The attacks by the U.S.-led coalitions were deemed necessary despite concerns about an escalation in a region already burdened with tensions, notably the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The U.S. had previously refrained from direct strikes in Yemen but felt compelled to act due to continuous Houthi aggressions.
U.S. Navy SEALs seize Houthi weapons cache in daring raid
CENTCOM’s report details the operation, revealing that U.S. Navy SEALs from the USS Lewis B. Puller boarded the vessel, a dhow, in international waters off Somalia’s coast.
They seized numerous components for Houthi medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), including propulsion, guidance, and warhead elements.
Additionally, air defense components were also found aboard.
“Initial analysis indicates these same weapons have been employed by the Houthis to threaten and attack innocent mariners on international merchant ships transiting in the Red Sea,” CENTCOM reported.
U.S. seizes Iranian weapons bound for Houthis in Yemen
The operation underscores Iran’s involvement in the conflict, as Gen. Kurilla pointed out. “It is clear that Iran continues shipment of advanced lethal aid to the Houthis.
This is yet another example of how Iran actively sows instability throughout the region in direct violation of UN Security Resolution 2216 and international law,” he stated.
The U.S. remains committed to working with regional and international partners to counter these actions and ensure safe navigation. In executing the operation, helicopters and drones were employed.
The Navy sank the seized vessel after being deemed unsafe. Decisions regarding the 14-person crew are being made in accordance with international law.
Pattern of Iranian arms shipments to Yemen
This incident is not isolated. CENTCOM has reported multiple seizures of Iranian arms bound for Yemen in the past.
Just last February, a joint U.S.-French operation intercepted thousands of assault rifles and ammunition heading to Yemen.
Furthermore, in December, the U.S. announced plans to transfer seized Iranian weapons and ammunition, originally intended for the Houthis, to Ukraine.
U.S. Navy seizure reflects ongoing efforts to counter arms trafficking
The recent seizure by the U.S. Navy highlights the continuing struggle in the region against arms trafficking and the efforts to maintain regional stability.
The complexities of the situation are further compounded by the Iran-backed Houthi movement’s continued aggression and the international community’s efforts to thwart these destabilizing actions.