Aggression is the best defence
Iran has said its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps held naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz "within the framework of their annual training programme." The exercise was held with aim of "controlling and maintaining the security of the international waterway of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and to proportionately counter any threats by the enemy," according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. "Operation was part of IRGC's annual training programme," Tasnim said. It included naval and aerospace units and was described as "successful" by IRGC Chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Ja'fari. Iran's actions in the globally significant waterway raised concerns after a US assessment found IRGC assembled a fleet of more than 100 boats and hundreds of Iranian troops on the standby.
More than 100 oil tankers were anchored in the Gulf of Oman, waiting to enter the strait and load up with oil. US officials said the major naval exercise was meant to demonstrate Iran's ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which would have ripple effects across the globe. The strait connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. The US Energy Information Administration calls it "the world's most important oil transit chokepoint," with 20 per cent of oil traded worldwide moving through the waterway, which is about 30 miles wide at its narrowest point. The US military has been trying to encourage other nations in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, to take a strong line on keeping the Gulf open in the face of rising Iranian rhetoric. They have also expressed concern about keeping open the waterways off Yemen where Iranian-backed rebels have, reportedly, attacked oil tankers. The Iranian military manoeuvres are normally held later in the year and heavily publicised by the country. But this year's exercise was timed to take place as US prepares to reimpose sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. This has, understandably, the upset may economic equations and strategies globally. Indeed, both the French and German leaders tried to dissuade the US President but, sadly, in vain. Indeed, when the Iran treaty was drawn up by President Obama, the entire European Union, Russia and China had unanimously and simultaneously supported it. That it was torn up by the present dispensation is another story. The Iranian riyal is down 25 per cent against the dollar. US sanctions will kick in again banning the purchase of US dollars, gold and other precious metals and, in early November, oil, shipping and ports will be hit by the second phase of the same sanctions. Hardship has hit Iran. Hormuz is the place they can transfer that pain to the rest of the world.