Above Photo: Via Twitter.
In a provocative move, the US announced deployment of 3,000 additional troops in West Asia on Monday.
Claims alleged Iranian threat to ships in the region.
More than 3,000 soldiers from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed by the US in the Red Sea on Sunday, August 6. They arrived on board two warships, USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall, and entered the Red Sea through the Suez canal, the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain said in a statement on Monday.
“These units add significant operational flexibility and capability as we work to deter destabilizing activities and deescalate regional tensions caused by Iran’s harassment and seizures of merchant vessels,” Fifth Fleet spokesperson Commander Tim Hawkins told AFP.
The deployment was as per an earlier US announcement about adding more armament and forces in the Persian Gulf region for security purposes. It had also made announcements about the deployment of additional fighter jets in the region last month.
The US claims that Iran seized or attempted to take control of over 20 ships passing through the Persian Gulf region in the last two years. In early July, it had claimed that it thwarted Iranian attempts to capture two oil tankers.
Iranians refute these claims and have warned the US over the surge in the number of its troops in the region. Iran claims that all seizures of ships have been related to attempts to secure the Persian Gulf from illegal trade and for ensuring Iranian security.
Iran also refuted the US claim of attempting to seize two ships in July. Iran stated that one of the ships in question had in fact collided with an Iranian ship, seriously injuring five crew members.
Nasser Kanani, spokesperson of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, questioned the US troops’ surge in the region, saying that their presence had never provided security but only served US interests, Al-Jazeera reported.
The US uses its thousands of troops present in different countries in the region to pursue its strategic interests. It has its navy’s fifth command located in Manama, Bahrain. Following the imposition of economic and political sanctions on Iran in 2018, confrontations between Iranian and US naval forces have increased with seizures and counter seizures of ships—the so-called tanker war.
Hinting that the move to increase US troops in the region was aimed at harassing Iranian ships or imposing a blockade on Iran, the spokesperson of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Corps (IRGC), General Ramezan Sharif, said that Iran’s armed forces “can respond in kind to any US action and mischief [in the region], including the seizure of ships.” He also claimed that such deployments will not affect Iran’s attempts to secure the Persian Gulf, Tasnim news agency reported.
The report also mentioned Iran’s position that security of the Persian gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the Indian Ocean has nothing to do with the US. It quoted Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesperson of the Iranian armed forces, saying on Saturday that “all the countries in the region are capable of establishing security in these waters.”
The Persian Gulf is a strategic waterway crucial for the supply of over a quarter of the world’s energy needs. Iran has proposed the formation of a regional maritime security regime to end all kinds of external interventions in this region. However, the Iranian proposal has been opposed by the US.