The situation with Iran seems to be getting worse by the day with tensions rising due to the actions of both Western nations like the United States, Israel, and allied states in the region and sadly Iran as well.
It is quite unfortunate that this escalation is continuing – if not accelerating – as there is nothing good that could come from yet another bloody conflict.
Coming on the heels of a large-scale 10-day-long naval exercise carried out by Iran in the Persian Gulf, which included several test missile launches, Iranian officials have announced yet another drill.
According to Russia’s RIA Novosti, the Iranian Fars news agency has reported that Iran is going to conduct a new “massive” naval exercise, which will unsurprisingly be held near the Strait of Hormuz.
Not only is the Strait of Hormuz an area through which an estimated 40 percent of the world’s oil supply flows, but also one which has been sparking heated rhetoric from Iran and the United States Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain.
The Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would be conducting the “greatest naval war games” near the strait.
The drill is codenamed “The Great Prophet” and will likely coincide with, or at least be quite close to, the immense joint naval exercises to be carried out by the United States and Israel in the near future, which I covered in part one of this series.
Recently, the Associated Press reported on this “largest-ever joint drill” codenamed “Austere Challenge 12” while citing an unnamed senior military official who stated that the exercise would be held in the next few weeks.
The Associated Press makes sure to point to the Israeli military’s claim that the drill was planned a long time ago and thus not tied to recent events, although this buildup is far from something that has just occurred recently.
The announcement of “The Great Prophet” comes soon after the United States passed new sanctions which target Iranian oil experts and European Union Foreign Ministers are planning to meet and discuss banning Iranian oil imports in late January.
The sanctions are aimed at forcing Iran to drop their alleged secret nuclear weapons program but since Iran denies these claims entirely, this can only mean that the West expects Iran to stop pursuing peaceful nuclear technology as well.
This leads one to wonder why it is only Western nations and those aligned with Western interests that are allowed to pursue civilian nuclear technology.
This is especially questionable given the non-existent moral authority the West can claim, especially when it comes to the usage of nuclear weaponry.
A great example of this is the situation with India and Australia, where the latter nation is furnishing natural uranium to the former which is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Unsurprisingly, the West stays silent since India is a key player in the United States and NATO’s move to dominate the Asia-Pacific region with a multilateral alliance between India, Australia, Japan, America and NATO.
The state-run IRNA stated that the plant will be able to create 1,000 megawatts of energy by Feburary 1 while the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Feireidoun Abbasi, stated that they have already shown the new domestically produced centrifuges to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) representative.
The naval commander of the IRGC Ali Fadavi stated that exercises coming up in February would focus directly on the Strait of Hormuz.
It is hard to argue that the Iranian military is attempting to display dominance over the region as Iranian officials recently threatened to close the strait if more sanctions are brought against the nation.
As I mentioned in my previous writing, Iran has also made an ambiguous threat to the United States if another aircraft carrier were to sail through the strait.
Yet the Vancouver Sun states that the Bahrain-based United States Fifth Fleet “is far more powerful than Iran’s naval force” while pointing out to the counter-threats made by the American military and an equally opaque threat from the British who stated that any attempt made at closing the strait would not only be illegal but unsuccessful.
One might assume that they are implying that the West would make sure it was unsuccessful, obviously employing force of some kind or another.
The upcoming “Great Prophet” exercise, which is actually Great Prophet-7, part of a series of exercises, is in fact not the only drill to be or being conducted by Iran.
Today a senior military commander reported that the IRGC has in fact already started military drills, codenamed “Martyrs of Unity.”
The Commander of IRGC Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour stated that phase one of the drills began today near Khaf city in the Khorasan province of Iran.
Despite the Pentagon’s warnings in late December against interfering with maritime transportation through the Strait of Hormuz, the Deputy Commander of the IRGC, Brigadier General Hossein Salami stated that Tehran need not seek Washington’s permission to implement its defense strategies in the Persian Gulf.
A bit of a different impression was given by Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast who stated that the Persian Gulf is critical for the global energy supply and as such Iran is not intentionally creating tension.
“But if the atmosphere changes into a war spirit and the situation in the region changes, all the decisions (of Iranians) would be made on the basis of new condition,” Ramin Mehmanparast told China’s Xinhua.
This gets in to the ambiguous territory of the other threats issued by Iranian officials as well as those so-called warnings the United States has given.
When asked about the possible sanctions by EU member states, which will be debated on January 30, Mehmanparast said that the Iranian oil supply cannot be replaced in the global crude oil trade and thus the market cannot easily cut the nation with the fourth largest oil reserves in the world out of the equation.
This is quite accurate as it would not only hurt the Iranian people, it would also create stratospheric gas prices here in America.
The Vancouver Sun reports that the people of Iran are already being negatively impacted by the Western sanctions, writing, “The sanctions are already hurting ordinary Iranians, faced with rising prices and a falling rial currency. They have been lining up at banks to convert their savings into dollars.”
This is precisely what so many individuals, myself included, in the alternative news community have been saying since these sanctions were first being pushed for.
It is inevitable that the only people who are hurt by sanctions are those at the bottom of the food chain, the everyday people who do not have the ability to combat the crippled economic climate.
Of course this is never what is highlighted by the government and establishment media outlets when covering the successes of non-violent intervention via sanctions, but it is the ugly truth as we have seen in the past with Iraq.
The most concerning aspect of these latest developments is the possibility that both the joint American-Israeli exercises and the Iranian drills could occur simultaneously and some conflict could ensue.
Hopefully it is just more saber rattling on both sides but the timing of these maneuvers couldn’t be worse in terms of the possible implications.
If the IRGC decides to temporarily close the Strait of Hormuz as part of one of their exercises, one can only imagine the brutal response that would follow at the hands of not only the United States Fifth Fleet but also the other forces that will be participating in the operations with Israel.
- Iran: a quickly evolving geopolitical imbroglio
- Positioning for war with Iran?
- White House: Iran Warning on Persian Gulf Shows ‘Weakness’
- Oil standoff: Iran, West on brink of war?
- Israeli strike on Iran looking more likely as Iran counters with their own threats, seeks Russian support