Security

US bombers fly over Middle East in another show of force

By Al-Mashareq

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A US B-52 bomber flies over the Middle East on January 27. [CENTCOM]

For the third time this year, the US military on Wednesday (January 27) flew B-52 bombers over the Middle East in the latest show of strength in the region.

The mission, which started from a base in the US state of Louisiana, "was intended to demonstrate the US military's ability to deploy airpower anywhere in the world to deter potential aggression and showcase the US commitment to regional security", US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

The bombers were accompanied by a squadron of Saudi fighter jets.

The flyover is part of ongoing US military maneuvers aiming to send a deterrent message to Tehran, as tensions rise in the region due to increased Iranian threats and continued attacks by Iranian proxy groups.

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A US B-52 bomber flies with Saudi fighters over the Middle East on January 27. [CENTCOM]

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US B-52 bombers take off from Barksdale Air Force Base in the US state of Louisiana on January 26, at the start of their mission to fly over the Middle East. [CENTCOM]

B-52 bombers also performed non-stop missions from a US Air Force base in North Dakota to the Gulf and back on both January 7 and 17.

"The United States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the US Central Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at Americans or our interests," Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of CENTCOM, said on December 30 following another flyover by the bombers.

"We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack," he said.

The bomber flyovers are just one element of the US military's recent moves in the region.

A US nuclear submarine, the USS Georgia, crossed the Strait of Hormuz in late December, the first US nuclear submarine to do so in eight years.

In September, a US aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, crossed the strait, a maritime route essential for the passage of global energy supplies. It has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November.

Deterring miscalculations

The shows of force by the US military stem in part from growing alarm over Iranian miscalculations.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks following a December 20 rocket attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad by an Iran-backed Iraqi militia.

The US Embassy and other foreign military and diplomatic sites have been targeted by dozens of rockets and roadside bombings in recent months.

US and Iraqi officials have blamed hardline groups, including Kataib Hizbullah.

Iran in early January also announced the start of the process to enrich uranium to 20% purity at its underground Fordow facility, going well beyond the threshold set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

It is the latest and most important suspension of nuclear commitments by Iran under the landmark deal.

Last October, the United States unilaterally imposed an arms embargo on Iran, urging other nations to do the same and warning that, with greater access to arms, Iran will supply more dangerous and destabilising weapons to its proxies throughout the region and be more empowered to repress its own people.

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