The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy has been headquartered in Bahrain for decades. American warships regularly patrol international waters in the Persian Gulf and have for many years. The aircraft carrier John C. Stennis leads a navy task force in the region and left the Gulf on December 27th to provide air support for the war in Afghanistan. It is now returning to the Gulf having completed its mission there.
Iranian Army chief Ataollah Salehi has warned the United States not to send the carrier back into the Gulf or else it will face dire consequences. He said the U.S. moved the carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran’s recent naval exercises there and that Iran would take action if it returned.
Salehi said “Iran will not repeat its warning…the enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf.”
“I advise, recommend and warn them over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”
The United States responded by saying “These are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations. The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce.”
By any stretch of the imagination the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are critical to the economy and national security of the United States. If the U.S. allowed Iran to establish its hegemony on the waterways the results would be catastrophic, not only for America itself but for its friends and allies in the Middle East and around the world as well. Iran sees the United States as the Great Satan and would like nothing more than to bring it to its knees. The Iranians have worked very hard for many years on a large number of different fronts to do exactly that and establishing their hegemony in the Gulf would bring them much closer to their goal. It might even achieve it for them.
Let’s hope the Stennis returns to the Gulf and that the U.S. doesn’t back down in the face of Iranian threats and lies, as President Obama is inclined to do and as he has done in the past. Let’s also hope the Iranians attack the Stennis or other American vessels in the area, that Obama sees this as an act of war (which it would be), that he decides a strong response would help him get re-elected (Obama being Obama that would be his biggest, perhaps only, consideration) and that he chooses to respond in force, part of which would entail destroying Iran’s nuclear weapons development facilities.
What a wonderful New Year’s present to the United States, the Middle East and the rest of the world that would be.
Come on Salehi.
Come on Obama.
Make my day.