Britain has reportedly deployed its most advanced warship to the coast of Yemen to protect the vital Bab al-Mandeb strait, a key oil route.
Much of Britain’s gas and oil supplies passes through the strait, which feeds into the Suez Canal
Though not yet publicly confirmed, a report in the Times newspaper said HMS Daring a Type 45 destroyer had been diverted to the area to protect the crucial shipping lane from the threat of missile attacks by Iranian backed Houthi rebels.
It has been claimed recently that three US warships and a UAE vessel were targeted – without any effect – from the Yemeni coastline.
The attacks are thought to have been carried out by Houthi rebels using Iranian-sourced missiles.
Western economies fear they could be crippled if the strait is dominated by rebel groups blocking the flow of commercial shipping.
“As part of our commitment to freedom of navigation in the region, HMS Daring is providing situational awareness and reassurance to commercial shipping,” a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman told the Times.
There have been repeated calls for the UK to stop arming Saudi Arabia. However, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson argued in October that if Britain did not sell arms to Saudi Arabia, other countries “would happily” take over the market.
Johnson insisted the government is closely monitoring the situation in Yemen, where Saudi forces have been accused of war crimes over the course of their 19-month military intervention.
He said boycotting the sale of arms to Riyadh would harm British interests in the region and diminish its diplomatic and political influence.