"At the very least, the Iranians want to make it more expensive and difficult for the Americans to operate there, and if they can win a toehold on the other side of the Bab, all the better," AEI's Mr. Rubin said. "Yemen gets their foot in the door; the Bab el Mandeb means they can slam it shut at will."
"The Bab el Mandeb is the most strategic waterway most Americans have never heard of," said Mr. Rubin, now with the American Enterprise Institute. "The Suez Canal is meaningless if Iran shutters the Bab el Mandeb. And, if Iran is able to interfere with shipping through both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el Mandeb, they can effectively blockade Saudi Arabia."