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.
The Associated Press is reporting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will seize all of his nation’s privately-owned seaport warehouses, citing “state security” as the reason. The message came from the country’s Public Works Minister Diosdado Cabello.
Chávez has already expropriated a significant portion of the gold and petroleum industries, a good deal of the food staple distribution system, as well as most steel and iron manufacturing, and has designs on doing the same with the gas industry. Chávez has also managed to suppress the bulk of Venezuela’s dissenting media over the past few years by not renewing their communications licenses.
In 2008, he began to phase out the nation’s currency, the Bolívar, replacing it with “el Bolívar fuerte” (the Strong Bolívar); each of the new marks being worth one thousand of the old. The move induced a short-lived confidence in the Venezuelan market, but the value of the existing currency has fallen by almost 80% versus the US Dollar during the past year and a half . While against the burgeoning Euro, it has done much worse. On the black market (proving, I suppose, that there is no honour among thieves) the ‘back-alley service charge’ on the new currency is higher than for the standard Bolívar. (Note: Most currency exchange systems list only the standard Bolívar by default.)
At this rate, how will Chávez be able to afford his considerable sword addiction? Or, more importantly, how will the average family be able to afford the basic necessities of life?
I wonder where he could be getting such crazy ideas?
An interesting report on US-Sino relations and competition from the US State Department’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) – October 1, 2008.
China’s Strategic Modernization
Report from the ISAB Task Force
The Secretary’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) was asked to examine China’s strategic modernization, including the principal underlying motivations. Based on this review, the Board was asked to recommend approaches that~could “move the U.S. China security relationship toward greater transparency and mutual confidence, enhance cooperation, and reduce the likelihood of misunderstanding or miscalculation that can contribute to competition or conflict.”