Britain, US and France send warships
through Strait of Hormuz
Britain, America and France delivered a pointed signal to Iran, sending six warships led by a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.
By David Blair
Chief Foreign Correspondent, The Telegraph
6:00AM GMT 23 Jan 2012
This deployment defied explicit Iranian threats to close the waterway. It coincided with an escalation in the West’s confrontation with Iran over the country’s nuclear ambitions.
European Union foreign ministers are today expected to announce an embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounting to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed. They are also likely to impose a partial freeze on assets held by the Iranian Central Bank in the EU.
Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation. Tankers carrying 17 million barrels of oil pass through this waterway every day, accounting for 35 per cent of the world’s seaborne crude shipments. At its narrowest point, located between Iran and Oman, the Strait is only 21 miles wide.
Last month, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian navy, claimed that closing the Strait would be “easy,” adding: “As Iranians say, it will be easier than drinking a glass of water.”
But USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered carrier capable of embarking 90 aircraft, passed through this channel and entered the Gulf without incident yesterday. HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate from the Royal Navy, was one of the escort vessels making up the carrier battle-group. A guided missile cruiser and two destroyers from the US Navy completed the flotilla, along with one warship from the French navy.
Saudi forces have crossed the border into northern Yemen in response to Houthi rebel incursions into the kingdom. Debkafile is reporting that a Saudi tank column rolled into Yemeni territory in support of the government in Sanaa, accompanied by Saudi armoured infantry with F-15s providing air support. This move is intended to counter growing IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) influence on the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula and forestall a possible northward move by Yemeni rebels.
More details from AFP…
Map: BBC News
The Shi’a Houthi (also referred to as Zaidi or Yazdi) rebels in northern Yemen have been armed and supported by Iran and are thought to be part of a broader, more ambitious Iranian government plan to displace the House of Saud, guardians of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
VizReport published a chilling strategic analysis of Iran’s broader regional aspirations in 2005. Though our current timeframe is somewhat later than originally suggested in the report, the methods and conclusions suggested therein remain as relevant today as they were then. (Editor’s note: While we are presently unable to bring you the complete presentation, we did secure permission to post a much-condensed, low-resolution version of the report that was distributed in early 2006.)
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