Security

US, Gulf alliances counter Iranian naval threat

By Mohammed al-Jayousi in Manama

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Bahrain Defence Force Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) and US Navy Vice Admiral, James J. Malloy (C), Commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and the US 5th Fleet, are pictured at the operations centre of the International Maritime Security Construct following its opening at the US 5th Fleet Command in Manama, on November 7th, 2019. [Mazen Mahdi/AFP]

Securing Gulf waters against repeated Iranian threats can only be achieved through increased co-operation between the Gulf states and their allies, particularly the US, analysts told Al-Mashareq.

Iran's recent efforts to vaunt the naval power of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are intended to deflect media attention away from its political isolation and devastated economy, and project strength, they said.

In late May, the IRGC warned US forces in the Gulf that its presence "will be felt soon", as it received delivery of 110 naval combat vessels, including Ashura-class speedboats, Zolfaghar coastal patrol boats and Taregh submarines.

"We are used to these threats by the Iranian regime," Bahraini journalist Tamam Abu Safi told Al-Mashareq, describing them as mere "political manouevering".

In reality, she said, Iran is grappling with an economic crisis, exacerbated by US sanctions that bar it from selling oil and trading in iron and steel.

Faced with these restrictions and an economy in free-fall, she explained, the Iranian regime is trying to create the perception that Iran is in a state of war and that it is a major power fighting an "enemy".

Iran has no intention of acting on these threats, Abu Safi added, noting that the high level of co-operation between the US and the Gulf states will deter it.

Last year, the US launched a naval coalition to protect shipping in Gulf waters.

Led by Britain, it comprises three other member states; Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, and also includes naval forces from other countries.

This coalition aims to "strengthen the protection of commercial ships and oil tankers in the Gulf region against any potential Iranian attack", Abu Safi said.

The latest Iranian threats to the Gulf states and their allies are "hollow and intended for media and political consumption", Bahraini journalist Ibrahim al-Nahham told Al-Mashareq.

As Iran's economy collapses, as the result of actions and decisions that triggered international sanctions, its expansionist projects in the region have suffered a huge blow, he said.

Protecting the Strait of Hormuz

Iran's threats are mere "bluster", writer and political analyst Saad Rashid told Al-Mashareq, and are only intended "to create more tension in the region".

"It is reassuring that the US is fully aware of what is taking place, and of the potential security threats and suspicious activity in the waters of the Arabian Gulf," he said.

The US has been co-ordinating its security efforts in the Gulf with its allies in the region, he said, noting that present circumstances call for further joint efforts.

Rashid said the international community must stand with Gulf states in securing maritime navigation in Gulf waters -- a key conduit for the global oil trade.

"There is no question that we will face security challenges if the Iranian navy fleet in the waters of the Arabian Gulf is strengthened and Iran deploys missiles on the shores of main waterways," he said.

For this reason there must be a joint international force to protect those waterways, and the Strait of Hormuz in particular, he added.

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The United States should first and foremost take care of its own war-torn, riot-rattled cities, and then come here to say this nonsense. God willing, the fall of America is near!

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Those who are allied with the Jews are from them. You’ve been exposed, o, hypocrites. Damn you!

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