Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Crisis in the Red Sea, covert US-Iran discussions to stop attacks

By triji Mar 16, 2024

In an effort to bring an end to the strikes that have been taking place in the Red Sea, the United States is reportedly participating in indirect conversations with Iran, as reported by the Financial Times. Additionally, China is participating in diplomatic activities.

During the month of January, the United States of America and Iran engaged in covert negotiations with the aim of convincing Tehran to utilize its influence over the Houthi movement in Yemen to put a halt to attacks on ships in the Red Sea. This information was revealed by the Financial Times on Thursday, March 14, citing officials from both the United States and Iran as sources.

Officials have stated that the indirect conversations will take place in Oman in January, according to the Financial Times. This will be the first time that the two countries have met in ten months. During this time, the United States government has also expressed concern regarding the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program. Additionally, according to the sources that were referenced, Omani officials will act as mediators between the two delegations. White House Middle East advisor Brett McGurk and his Iran envoy Abram Paley led the American mission, while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, who is also Iran’s principal nuclear negotiator, represented the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian delegation was led by Abram Paley.

When the American delegation found itself busy with US activities to broker a deal between Israel and Hamas to stop the war in Gaza and secure the release of Israeli hostages held in the Strip, the second round of negotiations, which involved McGurk, was scheduled to take place in February. However, the negotiations were postponed because the American delegation found itself busy with these activities.

The United States of America has accused Iran of providing financial support to the Houthi military. Officials from the United States have insisted on multiple occasions that Tehran is supplying the Houthis with drones, missiles, and intelligence in order for them to carry out assaults on the ships. This may also be evident from official communications: the authorities in the United States employ the phrase “Houthi soldiers from Yemen supported by Iran” to designate the group.

In the month of January, diplomats assembled in Oman, with the United States side attempting to put an end to attacks on American outposts and shipping in the Red Sea, and Iran attempting to negotiate a cease-fire in Gaza.

According to Iranian and United States officials who are familiar with the discussions, Iran and the United States met in Oman in January to discuss the escalating threat posed to Red Sea shipping by the Houthis in Yemen. These discussions also addressed the attacks on American bases in Iraq that were carried out by militias that were supported by Iran.

During the covert discussions, which took place on January 10 in Muscat, the capital of Oman, Omani officials passed communications back and forth between Iranian and American delegations that were seated in separate rooms. They were led by Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and principal nuclear negotiator, and Brett McGurk, President Biden’s coordinator for the Middle East. Both of these individuals were responsible for the delegations.

This week, The Financial Times was the first publication to report on the encounter, which marked the first time in about eight months that Iranian and American officials had engaged in-person conversations, albeit negotiations that were conducted indirectly. The conference was sought by Iran in January, according to officials from the United States, and the Omani government strongly encouraged that the United States accept the invitation.

Since the commencement of the conflict in Gaza, which originated as a result of Hamas‘ strikes on Israel on October 7, the United States and Iran have reassured one another that none of them was looking for a direct confrontation. This position has been communicated through communications that they have sent through intermediaries.

Officials from the United States and Iran have stated that in the case of Oman, both parties had made a specific request to the other.

Washington wanted Iran to reign in its proxies so that it could put an end to the attacks that the Houthis were carrying out against American outposts in Iraq and Syria, as well as attacks on ships in the Red Sea. On the other hand, Tehran desired that the administration of Vice President Joe Biden implement a cease-fire in Gaza.

The United States led military strikes on several Houthi sites in Yemen on January 11, just a few hours after Mr. McGurk departed the conference with the Iranians. However, no deal was struck, and the United States led the coalition of military strikes. The United States of America carried out strikes against Iranian-linked military bases in Iraq and Syria at the beginning of February. These actions were carried out as a form of revenge for the killing of three American service personnel by Iraqi militia operating in close proximity to Iran.

Since then, there have been no more attacks on American military installations in Iraq, and there have been reports of only a few attacks of this kind in Syria.

An official of the United States of America stated that the United States had participated in the talks in order to demonstrate that even though tensions were rising, Washington was still willing to pursue diplomacy with Iran. However, the source also stated that the United States would resort to the use of force if the dialogue did not generate any results.

Iran continued to maintain in the talks that it did not control the activity of the militia, particularly the Houthis, but that it could use its influence on them to ensure that all attacks would come to a halt if a cease-fire were reached in Gaza — but not before. This was stated by two Iranian officials, one of whom was affiliated with the foreign ministry.

According to authorities from both the United States and Iran, since their meeting in January, Iran and the United States have continued to communicate with one another on a regular basis on the proxy militias and a cease-fire. The Omanis have acted as intermediates in this process.

Having channels of communication, even if they are indirect, can absolutely be valuable in limiting the danger of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, according to Ali Vaez, who is the head of Iran for International Crisis Group. However, as we have seen since then, tensions between the two sides continue to be high, particularly but not primarily over strikes carried out by the Houthis in the Red Sea.

Both the United States of America and Iran came to the conclusion that they needed to avoid a direct war in February. As part of their military reaction, the United States avoided launching direct strikes against Iran. Iran also succeeded in convincing the militia in Iraq to refrain from attacking American bases and the militias in Syria to reduce the intensity of their attacks in order to prevent the lives of American citizens.

However, since November 19, the Houthis have continued to launch 102 strikes against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, as reported by the Pentagon. As of the 14th of March, the United States had carried out 44 strikes on locations belonging to the Houthis. However, these attacks have not been successful in discouraging the Houthis, who have vowed to utilize more sophisticated weaponry.

The Houthis are claimed to have carried out a test launch of a new medium-range missile, according to a senior official from the United States. According to the official, the claims that were published in the Russian news media this week concerning the Houthis getting access to hypersonic missiles were probably not accurate.

In a statement made on Thursday, the leader of the Houthis, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, stated that the Houthis would be widening their targeting range in order to prevent ships with ties to Israel from traveling across the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope, which is located along the southernmost coast of Africa.

It was stated by analysts that the Houthis had proven to be a winning hand for Iran in the ongoing fight. This was due to the fact that they had caused damage to international commerce and extended the stakes of the war in Gaza beyond the region. That leverage is something that Iran will not give up easy, according to analysts.

A political analyst in Tehran named Sasan Karimi stated that the objective of the recent conversations that took place in Oman was for both parties to revert to the unofficial agreement that had been reached and to maintain a low level of tension. There is no reason to anticipate any progress in the relationship between the United States and Iran; for the time being, the focus is solely on the region. They want Iran to use its persuasive influence with the militia, but Iran is saying, “Not so fast, not until you give us a cease-fire.” They want Iran to use compelling power with the militia.

By triji

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