US & World

Trouble At The ‘Gate Of Tears’

2024 is off to a tense start …

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The new year didn’t waste any time generating serious geopolitical drama as a showdown between American and Iranian forces in the Red Sea now appears imminent. The drama began on New Year’s Eve when four Houthi boats based in Yemen attacked a Maersk container ship in the Red Sea hours after the vessel had been struck by a land-based missile.

American forces dispatched to protect the vessel – the Singapore-flagged Maersk Hangzho – encountered the four boats, destroying three of them and sending the remaining vessel fleeing back to Yemen. Ten Houthi militants were killed in the process.

“The small boats, originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, fired crew served and small arms weapons,” a release from the U.S. Armed Forces’ central command noted, alleging the boats got within twenty meters of the ship during what amounted as an attempt to board it.

American helicopters responded to the situation and were “in the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats” when they began to take on incoming fire from the vessels.

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“The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats, and killing the crews,” the release continued. “The fourth boat fled the area. There was no damage to U.S. personnel or equipment.”

Not yet, anyway …

Houthi officials confirmed ten of their sailors were “martyred” in the skirmish.

“U.S. enemy forces attacked three boats belonging to the Yemeni Naval Forces, which led to the martyrdom and the loss of ten people from the Naval Forces,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said.

The Houthis are a radical Islamic political/ military organization based in Sanaa, Yemen. They are funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran – which responded to the incident by announcing it was dispatching one of its destroyers to the area. The ship – known as the Alborz – traversed the Bab-el-Mandeb (a.k.a. the Gate of Tears) on Monday, marking a major escalation in the conflict.

Maersk has since suspended shipping through the Bab-el-Mandeb.

(Click to View)

Bab el-Mandeb (NASA)

Bab el-Mandeb is the narrow strait separating Yemen on the Arabian peninsula and Djibouti in North Africa. Just eighteen miles wide, it is a key global chokepoint – affording access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal.

“(Iran’s) move appears to represent a clear challenge to the U.S.-led maritime security force established last month to protect ships from attack in the region,” our friends at Zero Hedge noted, adding that tensions in the area “are only worsening despite the Pentagon’s mission to shield commercial vessels from attacks in the Red Sea.”

America isn’t just fighting the Houthis at the Gate of Tears. Four days ago, U.S. Treasury officials announced they had identified and sanctioned one individual and three entities responsible for having “facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars to the Houthis” from Sa’id Ahmad Muhammad al-Jamal, who is affiliated with Iran’s Republican Guard.

“Today’s action underscores our resolve to restrict the illicit flow of funds to the Houthis, who continue to conduct dangerous attacks on international shipping and risk further destabilizing the region,” Treasury undersecretary Brian E. Nelson noted. “The United States, along with our allies and partners, will continue to target the key facilitation networks that enable the destabilizing activities of the Houthis and their backers in Iran.”

With sympathy for Islamic extremists on the rise in the United States, though, Iran is clearly emboldened in its response to American efforts.

Will 2024 be the year this regional conflict – which escalated significantly last fall after Hamas’ attack on Israel – finally erupts into a broader geopolitical war? Early signs would seem to point to “yes.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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6 comments

SubZeroIQ January 1, 2024 at 10:03 pm

Djibouti is NOT “in North Africa,” but in the “horn of Africa.”
The semantic “North Africa” is, from west to east, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and some times Libya is included.
The geographic northern shore of Africa, which is the southern shore of the Mediterranean, is formed by, again from west to east, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.
South of Egypt is Sudan, then South Sudan; and east of Sudan and South Sudan are Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti. The latter is many lattitudes south of “North Africa.”
Geopolitical discussions should begin with some geographic literacy.
And the correct translation of Bab-al-mandab from Arabic is “door of lamentations,” not “Port of Tears.”

Reply
J Monday Top fan January 2, 2024 at 6:19 am

Enemies of the United States smell blood in the water due to our weakest leadership in history. Open borders & the influx of such enemies intensifies & emboldens them. The funding to the Houthis could very well have originated from American soil. Who knows where the pallets of cash went that was delivered to Iran under Obama? We better be looking for strong leadership in 2024 on foreign policy & the ones that will secure our borders. We are on the verge of losing our once great country. Every time we elect another soft, squishy liberal leader we edge even closer. Wake up people!

Reply
We Are All Domestic Terrorists January 2, 2024 at 8:06 am

The closest thing we have to Houthis are the J6 crew.

CPAC said it best.

Reply
Frank January 2, 2024 at 4:18 pm

The weakest possible signal we could send to the world is a Trump election. He will immediately abandon Ukraine to Putin and Taiwan to China, and begin trying to pull us out of NATO. Even Republicans in Congress know this and voted for legislation that would make pulling us out of NATO more difficult. It won’t work. Trump will destroy NATO.

As for the Middle East, he will do what is best financially for Trump. If he can make more money supporting Israel he will. If he can make more money from the Arab nations he will support them. Its just Trump’s way. He does not even understand why anyone would think that is wrong.

Reply
Losers gonna lose January 2, 2024 at 11:57 am

Republican domestic terrorists are our greatest threat. That and willfully misinformed dolts who spread the domestic terrorists’ propaganda. Funny how these morons are just parroting the exact same taking points from Obama’s time in office.

Reply
Bob January 2, 2024 at 1:06 pm

It’s Republican Senators who held up military promotions for months and months (harming our military’s stability) and Republicans who are holding up aid to our Allies who are actually spilling blood taking on our biggest enemy, Russia. It was Democrats who went straight to Taiwan to give the middle finger to China and China didn’t do shit. As a matter of fact, China’s domestic propaganda praise America now.

So, save your lies about Biden/Democrats. It’s Republicans who are weak and bumbling fools when it comes to defense and foreign policy. They can’t even run their local parties, much less an entire Country. That is why they continue to lose in landslide after landslide in national elections.

Reply

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