Security

US aircraft carrier completes transit through Strait of Hormuz

By Sultan al-Barei in Riyadh

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US navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) steam in formation through the Strait of Hormuz to the Arabian Gulf on September 18th. [US 5th Fleet]

The US's aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), guided-missile cruisers USS Princeton (CG 59) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), and guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) have completed a scheduled transit through the Strait of Hormuz to the Arabian Gulf on Friday (September 18th).

The US military presence in the Arabian Gulf, particularly the Strait of Hormuz, is a necessary and enduring component of the region's security, a military expert told Al-Mashareq.

This presence is a result of the strategic partnership between the Gulf states and the US, which is being constantly strengthened through discussions, military training and joint exercises, military expert Mansour al-Shehri said.

The US maintains a strategic relationship with all countries of the region, and with frequent attacks carried out by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), security is a top priority, al-Shehri said.

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US counter-terrorism forces prepare for an operation in the Strait of Hormuz. [CENTCOM]

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US and Emirati forces conduct joint exercises in Gulf waters. [CENTCOM]

A third of the world's seaborne oil -- a fifth of global oil output -- passes through the Strait of Hormuz, making it a key conduit for the global oil trade.

For this reason, the region's stability has a bearing on global stability, he said.

The US has demonstrated its professionalism and commitment to security through its own drills and through military manoeuvres with Gulf allies.

Joint training exercises conducted between the US Army and Navy in the Gulf region in March sought to achieve the highest levels of co-ordination between the two forces in order to enhance the security of the region.

In February, US and Saudi naval forces took part in the "Marine Defender" drill, aimed at enhancing security in the Gulf and achieving the highest level of direct co-ordination between the two naval powers.

Similar exercises conducted in recent months include the "Iron Union 12" drill, staged in December between US and Emirati forces; and "Island Shield 10" involving military units from Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) member states.

In contrast, Iran has demonstrated less than professional conduct.

In July, the US Navy criticised Iran as "irresponsible and reckless" for conducting a military exercise in Gulf waters that included the firing of a missile at a replica aircraft carrier.

And in May, an Iranian warship was hit by a friendly fire missile during naval exercises near Bandar-e Jask, off the southern coast of Iran, killing 19 sailors.

'No comparison' with US-Gulf strike force

Al-Shehri noted that some countries, like China and Russia, are trying to make inroads into the region, sending a political message that they are capable of protecting its countries.

"But Russia and China are Iran's most important allies, and therefore any intertwining of interests will favour Iran, meaning these powers will not be able to protect the Gulf states," he said.

On the contrary, their involvement would provide a cover for some type of Iranian intervention, he said, pointing to the situation in Syria as the clearest example of the way Iran has attempted to extend its influence in the region.

From the military standpoint, al-Shehri said, there is no comparison between the US-Gulf strike force and the Iranian forces that continually hold "empty parades".

The Iranian strike force is a "cardboard force" with no real capabilities, he added, noting that Iranian media take advantage of the restraint exercised by US forces to suggest Iranian forces are in control of regional waters.

"In the event of an actual attack or military intervention, however, the truth of the situation will be revealed," he said.

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