The South Korean Navy will send a new contingent of 300 soldiers to the Gulf of Aden, for an anti-piracy mission that in principle could later lead to joint patrols in the Strait of Hormuz within an international coalition led by the US, the Yonhap agency reported.
The contingent, which includes an underwater demolition team, a special operations group of the Navy, marines and pilots, will travel to the Horn of Africa aboard the destroyer Kang Gam Chan and will be responsible for protecting South Korean ships off the Somali coast , as well as supporting the ships of other nations.
The new mission, already the thirtieth, gave rise to conjectures that Seoul could be involved in an international coalition that Washington tries to forge to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
South Korea has not yet received an official request from the US in this regard, but US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, during his recent stay in Seoul, stressed the importance of international support for freedom of navigation in the area.
Lately, the US is trying to create an international coalition to patrol the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
For its part, France, the United Kingdom and Germany plan to launch a European initiative to ensure maritime safety in that region.
Talks on a joint naval mission to protect commercial ships in the area intensified after Iran stopped the oil tanker Stena Impero sailing under the British flag in the Strait of Hormuz.
For the president of Iran, Hasan Rohani, the presence of foreign forces in the area is the main cause of regional tensions.
It remains to be seen if this new South Korean mission will be part of the blockade against Yemen. There is every reason to suspect this might occur since South Korea is a staunch ally of the United States. Every pressure against Seoul must be made if they are to contribute to the starvation of Yemen.