(Photo credit: US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gray Gibson)
On 14 April, Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper announced that the US navy will set up a new multinational task force to patrol the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden on the coast of Yemen.
“These are strategically important waters that warrant our attention,” Cooper said on a call with reporters.
“The area is so vast that we just can’t do it alone, so we’re going to be at our best when we partner [with regional navies],” he added.
Task Force 153 will be the fourth joint task force of the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which was established in 2002 as an international naval coalition allegedly to combat trafficking, terrorism, and piracy in the region.
Washington has taken this step to reassure their commitment to the war efforts led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen, by providing additional military support following retaliatory missile and drone attacks launched by the Yemeni armed forces on the Gulf nations.
The decision comes as both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have pushed back against Washington’s demands amid a global fuel crisis.
Since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, Washington has demanded that its oil-producing allies in West Asia increase their production quotas to temper the effects of the fuel crisis caused by western sanctions imposed on Moscow.
However, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have refused these calls, instead doubling down on their OPEC+ commitments and bolstering ties with the Kremlin.
Nonetheless, Task Force 153 will operate as part of a brutal naval blockade imposed on Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition, which has led to what the UN calls “one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time.”
Despite reaching a UN-sponsored truce agreement set to last through the month of Ramadan, Riyadh’s forces have continuously violated the terms of the ceasefire with little repercussion from either the UN or the west.