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Iran's Warning of Further Ship Seizures Amidst US Marine Deployment in the Gulf Provokes Tensions
By Sea and Coast | 11/08/2023
On Monday, Iran reportedly issued a message of preparedness and defiance, warning about potential escalation. The country stated that it could capture American vessels in response to the Pentagon's increased presence in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif, the spokesperson for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), explained that Iran possessed the capability to reciprocate American threats, including vessel seizures. This statement followed the US sending 3,000 personnel and Marines to the Red Sea the day before. In July, the US military deployed F-35, A-10, and F-16 warplanes, along with Navy destroyers, to the Persian Gulf.
The reinforcement, according to US officials, aimed to conduct joint patrols in the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway crucial for global oil trade. The main purpose of this presence was to curb Iran's actions, which the US claimed involved "harassing" commercial vessels in strategic waters. Over the last two years, the US Navy has recorded 20 instances of IRGC harassment, including seizures and attacks. Iran defended its involvement in these cases, citing actions against oil smuggling or compliance with court orders.
The IRGC spokesperson emphasized that regional countries recognized Iran's emergence as a significant power. Two weeks earlier, the Iranian Defense Ministry had provided the IRGC with its first set of homemade long-range ballistic missiles (naval) in response to US deployments. These missiles were claimed to be capable of "destroying" enemy carriers. The spokesperson asserted that the littoral states in the Persian Gulf were responsible for maintaining its safety and security. He stated that these countries had understood both America's perceived weakness and the Islamic Republic's strength in recent confrontations.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a notable rival to Iran, had been unsettled by vessel seizures and maritime tensions attributed to Iran's forces. Despite recent efforts towards reconciliation with Abu Dhabi as part of a regional thaw, Tehran conducted military drills that showcased advancements and bolstered defense around three Persian Gulf Islands. These islands were under Iranian control but at the center of a long-standing territorial dispute with the UAE.