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USS Theodore Roosevelt sent to Yemen in response to Iran

Posted at 3:59 PM, Apr 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-21 18:44:14-04

Sanaa, Yemen- The USS Theodore Roosevelt left the Persian Gulf on Sunday and is now headed towards Yemen where there are currently three U.S. amphibious ships and two destroyers.

According to CBS News, the Roosevelt was sent in response to Iran appearing to send seven to nine ships towards Yemen, which might be carrying arms.

The Norfolk-based guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy is accompanying the Roosevelt.

The U.S. Navy has been bulking up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the Southern Arabian Sea since reports of the convoy of Iranian ships came out.

The Pentagon has been tracking the progress of the Iranian ships since last week, according to a report from the Navy Times. The Navy is prepared to intercept the ships if necessary.

The Navy conducts consensual ship boardings when necessary; however, thus far, Navy personnel have not boarded any Iranian vessels since the Yemen conflict first began.

Right now the Houthis are combating government-backed fighters in an attempt to try to take over the country. The U.S. has been supporting the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that is launching airstrikes against the Houthis with logistical and intelligence support. Currently, the air campaign is in its fourth week.

Hundreds of Iranian students staged a demonstration Monday April 13, in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran amid escalating tensions between the two countries. Protestors rallied together against the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen that have been targeting Houthis.

The United States, Western countries, and the Sunni Arab nations who are part of the Saudi-led coalition have accused Iran of supporting the Houthis military, which the Islamic Republic and the rebels both deny. The protest was a response to Iran's culture ministry suspending all trips by pilgrims to Saudi Arabia over alleged abuse that was inflicted upon two male piligrams who were traveling through Saudi's Jeddah airport in March, attempting to return to their home. The abuse ignited a protest at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran last Saturday April 11th. The public anger over the incident has caused President Hassan Rouhani to order an investigation and Iran's foreign ministry to summon a Saudi diplomat about the case.

Iran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on April 8, which establishes a military presence off the coast of Yemen which is where Saudi Arabia is leading a bombing campaign to drive out the Iran-allied Houthi movement. As Iran sent the naval destroyer and support vessel, the United States supplied more weapons to the Saudi-led coalition striking rebels. The movement towards the Gulf of Aden targets the Yemeni rebels , also known as Houthis who come from the Shiite group.

According to CBS News, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken blamed the occurring violence in Yemen on the Houthis, and said that the main endeavor of the U.S. is to defend Saudi Arabi.  In a statement made at a meeting with Saudi royals and Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled his country shortly after rebel advances, Blinken said: "we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operations center."

The Gulf Arab backed air campaign which supports Hadi began on March 26 and has thus far been unable to stop the Houthis' strides to Aden, which was named the provisional capital by Hadi before he fled. Yet, the U.S. has begun flying aerial refueling missions for the Saudi-led coalition, and will keep doing so once every day. The U.S. says all the chaos has allowed the local al Qaeda branch to make "great gains" on the ground, thus causing Washington to amend its methods of preventing launched attacks on the West. According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the collapse of the central government in Yemen is making it much more difficult to manage counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which strives to strike Western targets such as America.

The World Health Organization warned that the situation has spurred a humanitarian crisis, saying that dozens of children and at least 560 people have already been killed from a combination of air and ground battles. Currently WHO says that there are over 1,700 people have been wounded and 100,00 have fled their homes over the past few weeks. The first boat providing medical aid to Yemen since the bombiung began arrived in the southern port of Aden on Wednesday, April 8 according to international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders. Yet, the group is worried about how they will be able to transport the supplies and wounded people with all the pandemonium in the streets of Aden.

Additionally, the Human Rights Watch cited witnesses saying that Houthi forces fired into crowds of demonstrators in the cities of Tazia and Torba the day right before the bombing began. The incident killed at least 7 people and wounded over 80 other individuals. At this time, the New York housed group has called upon Houthi authorities to investigate the incident. With so many atrocities occurring and foreign powers beginning to take sides, the conflict is seemingly only growing deeper.

-Meghan Puryear