Old foes cross swords in the Gulf

By Song Jong Ho

The confrontational landscape in the Gulf region is polarizing into Iran versus US and other Western camps.

As was reported in May and June, oil tankers came under attack while on voyage in the sea off the UAE and the Oman Sea, and it is yet to find out who attacked them with what.

However, the US recklessly put the blame for it on Iran, instigating an atmosphere for pressurizing Iran.

Under the circumstances, the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shot down a US unmanned reconnaissance plane RQ-4A Global Hawk on an espionage mission in the sky above the Strait of Hormuz on June 19.

The US claimed that its aircraft was brought down while flying over the open sea by an Iranian anti-aircraft system and clamoured for retaliation. Iran made public a map with the specific coordinates showing the US drone intruded into its territorial air, saying there is no doubt about the position of the aircraft when it was shot down.

The incident came under the limelight of the international community as it came hard on the heels of the attack on an oil tanker in the Oman Sea for which no one has yet claimed responsibility.

On July 4 an Iranian oil tanker was captured by the British Royal Marines on the pretext that it violated the EU’s sanctions measure in the Straits of Gibraltar.

Shortly afterwards a British oil tanker was arrested by the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in the Strait of Hormuz.

As a retaliatory measure, the UK announced that its warships will escort vessels with the British flag through the strait and suggested to all European nations that Europe-led naval forces be deployed in the waters of the Persian Gulf.

The US readily accepted the UK’s suggestion as it is intensifying sanctions and pressure against Iran.

Recently, the US hosted the 2nd meeting for escorting oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Referring to it, the Iranian minister of defence and armed forces logistics on August 9 said that the US’ plan for founding maritime coalition forces on the pretext of security of vessels in the Gulf region will aggravate instability in the region.

The US has already announced an additional dispatch of about 1 000 troops to the Middle East and sent F-22 stealth fighters to Qatar for the first time.

Iran has also responded to them in kind.

The commander of the Iranian navy recently said that it would stage joint military exercises with Russia in the Indian Ocean in the near future.

The range of these exercises is expected to be extended to the Gulf of Oman, Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.

The US and other Western countries began military intervention in the strait under the veil of safe navigation and the situation in the Gulf is spiralling up towards a dangerous phase.

(Pyongyang Times -  August 24, 2019)