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July 14, 2016

Iran continues to provoke the United States despite the Obama administration’s efforts to appease the Islamic Republic in every possible manner.

The Lebanese news site YaLibanan, citing a Reuters report, revealed on Wednesday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps again challenged the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf by dispatching five naval vessels that approached the USS New Orleans.

The amphibious dock ship was sailing in the Strait of Hormuz with 650 Marines aboard and was accompanied by the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer. The Iranian warships came as close as 500 meters from the U.S. Navy vessels, which were hosting Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command in the Middle East.

Votel told reporters on the bridge of USS New Orleans that the Iranian move could have ended in a confrontation with the navy ships.

“As you’ve seen in a relatively compressed space here, there is great opportunity for miscalculations,” Votel stressed.

According to YaLibnan, “One of the four speedboats that approached the New Orleans and its escort, a Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Stout, cut its engines and watched as the U.S. warships passed. An hour before, a larger Iranian guided-missile patrol craft came by.”

Obama officials were quick to explain that the Iranian action was just a “professional interaction” that happens all the time when U.S. Navy vessels transit the Strait of Hormuz, a very important oil shipping route.

Votel, however, begged to differ. He said that the Iranian behavior constituted a clear threat.

The general said the nuclear deal “certainly has addressed one very important threat … but their other activity out here has not changed.”

The Iranian provocation came half a year after the IRGC captured 10 American sailors who strayed into Iranian territorial waters and humiliated them.

Iran subsequently breached international law by taking pictures and video of the sailors that were published on the Internet. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, however, thought the IRGC commanders who initiated the crisis were heroes and awarded them with medals of honor.

“Ayatollah Khamenei, the commander in chief of the IRGC, regularly praises Iranian officials who defy the U.S. and scorns officials who advocate cooperation with the U.S. I haven’t seen any signs that this institutional culture has changed after the nuclear deal.” Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour told Reuters.

Votel compared the Iranian behavior with that of the U.S. Navy. He rebuked the Iranians for the capture of the 10 American sailors and other provocations and said that the Navy had given assistance to 11 Iranian military vessels since 2012.

“If we came across a ship, a small vessel in the area, we would try to assist it,” the general told reporters.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, continues to praise Iran for its attitudes and for pushing “unity against terrorism” in the Middle East.

Rick Stengel, the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, responded last week to recent terrorism in Saudi Arabia with a tweet that highlighted Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif as a Muslim leader who pushes for regional unity against terrorism.

Stengel’s Twitter message totally contradicted a recent State Department assessment that said Iran remains the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism and doesn’t reflect the reality in the Middle East where Iran is fueling the Sunni-Shia war and controls four Arab countries (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen).

Source: Western Journalism

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.