The Pentagon has announced that the United States will be deploying marines and two amphibious warships to the Middle East in response to recent attempts by Iranian forces to seize commercial ships in the region. This move comes after the U.S. Defense Department had already sent fighter jets and a guided-missile destroyer to the area to enhance security.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered the deployment of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, consisting of USS Bataan, USS Carter Hall, and their personnel, to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. The Pentagon has emphasized the importance of working with allies and partners who are committed to maintaining the free flow of commerce, and taking coordinated actions against threats to the rules-based international order.
General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the commander of CENTCOM, has stated that these additional forces will help safeguard the free flow of international commerce, uphold the rules-based international order, and deter any destabilizing activities by Iran in the region. He has emphasized that defending freedom of navigation within their area of responsibility is a top priority.
These deployments were prompted by recent attempts by the Iranian navy to illegally seize two oil tankers in the waters between Iran and Oman. The U.S. Navy reported that the Iranian vessels fired at one of the tankers during their second attempt, but there were no reported damages or casualties. Over the past two years, Iran has been responsible for attacking, seizing, or attempting to seize almost 20 internationally flagged merchant vessels in the region.
Meanwhile, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani has asserted that Iran has reached a level of power and capabilities that no one can threaten. He has stated that Iran is a significant player in the region and the world. When asked about the countries to which Iran primarily sells drones, Mr. Ashtiani replied that they do not focus on any particular country because they consider themselves a drone power in the world.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been ongoing for several decades, dating back to the 1979 revolution and subsequent regime change in Iran. The situation has escalated since the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with other world powers. Iran has attempted to resume its nuclear activities, claiming they are for peaceful purposes, and has also provided drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine.
The United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, with then-President Donald Trump describing it as one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the country has ever entered into. He argued that the deal enriched the Iranian regime and allowed it to engage in malign behavior, while delaying its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
In conclusion, the deployment of marines and warships to the Middle East by the United States is a response to recent Iranian attempts to seize commercial ships in the region. This move aims to ensure the free flow of commerce, uphold the rules-based international order, and deter any destabilizing activities by Iran. Tensions between the two nations have been ongoing for years, and the situation has escalated since the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran asserts its power and capabilities, claiming that no one can threaten it.