Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 13
By Azer Akhmadbayli – Trend:
Possible US decision to put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the list of terrorist organizations will definitely compound the problems already facing the Middle East region and, what makes it even worse, it can escalate the possibility of armed clashes in the Gulf.
Today President Donald Trump is going to represent the administration’s broader strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to the Iran’s “malign activities″ in the region.
According to earlier proposals made by the US administration’s officials, Washington defined targets for neutralizing Iran’s activities in developing of ballistic missiles program, support of Shi‘ite proxies and militant groups in Iraq and Syria, Iranian arms shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Palestinian groups in Gaza and Sinai, and belligerence of Iranian naval forces in the Gulf.
So, the US has outlined potential geographic zones of confrontation with Iran, with possibility to use force.
But it looks that the most dangerous scenario may take place in the Gulf waters, as, different from other zones, there is a direct interaction between US and Iran military forces that may be targeted and destroyed. Last year US Fifth Navy encountered 35 such interactions.
The last incident occurred in July this year, when the IRGC’s high-speed boat made a dangerously close approach to US Navy patrol vessel and made it fire warning shots to stop the Iranians.
As the US Navy say, their typical tactics is to approach alarmingly close to a US Navy vessel at high speed or dangerously cross a vessel’s route, ignoring repeated requests to keep safe distance.
From now on, Americans should expect frequency of sea incidents with participation of the IRGC’s maritime forces to increase and likely become more aggressive. Sooner or later there may be an incident resulting in opening fire with possible casualties and the destroying of adversary’s vessels.
The IRGC’s chief commander Mohammad Ali Jafari has warned that Iran would treat US troops like ISIS terrorists if the IRGC is designated as a terrorist organization.
In January 2016 two US Navy combat boats with ten men onboard were captured by IRGC marine forces after they entered Iranian territorial waters. That time they were of the “detained” status, and were released the following day.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) representative said the IRGC had released the sailors after determining they had entered Iranian territory by mistake.
If similar situation occurs tomorrow, it is most likely that US servicemen will be declared terrorists and accordingly sentenced to heavy term of imprisonment.
As well, the IRGC warlike behavior and the US Navy’s possible retaliatory actions could threaten the safe passage of oil tankers carrying the better part of the fuel supply to world markets.