U.S. naval armada set to sail into Gulf to 'intimidate' Iran

Friday, November 10, 2006

WASHINGTON The U.S. Navy has gathered aircraft carriers and troop transports for entry in the central Gulf. Included, officials said, were at least 10 warships that would arrive in the region over the next few days.

"The reason is to intimidate the Iranians," an official said. "There are two crises: Iraq. The second is Iranian efforts to recruit Iraq and Gulf Arab states in an alliance."

Officials said Iran may have been behind the destruction of a Kuwait refinery over the weekend, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the reports that the refinery was demolished by an "accident" was incorrect.

The Bush administration was described as alarmed by the Gulf states' interest in an alliance with Iran. Officials said Iran pledged to end the incitement of the large Shi'ite communities in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states if the alliance was concluded.

"There are assets being gathered in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India and Pakistan as well as assets moving toward the Gulf from the Red Sea," an official said.

Officials said the navy was ordered to begin the redeployment in the Gulf in Oct. 1. They said the first assets to sail toward the region were cruisers and minesweepers.

The navy maneuvers were said to have been initiated and ordered by the White House. A source close to the administration said Vice President Richard Cheney has warned against the massive maneuvers.

Officials said Pentagon analysts warned of Iranian retaliation. The analysts stressed that the U.S. military lacks sufficient high-value, particularly nuclear, targets in Iran.

On Nov. 5, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Gen. Yahya Safavi ruled out a U.S. strike against Iran. Safavi told Iran's Arabic-language Al Alam television that the U.S. military deployment was already under strain throughout the region.

"Under the current circumstances, Americans are involved in Afghanistan and the quagmire of Iraq so we do not anticipate any military attack from America,'' Safavi said. "But Iran has its own defense and deterrent power and it is very unlikely that America will cause us any problems.''

Copyright 2006 East West Services, Inc.

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