Iran’s Response to U.S. Warning:
TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- The Iranian navy will maintain regular missions in the Persian Gulf, the ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday, a day after the United States warned mariners there to stay away from U.S. warships.
"The naval units of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman will continue their regular missions in accordance with professional principles as in the past,” ISNA quoted an unnamed military official as saying.
The U.S. warning to mariners followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat last month to fire on any Iranian ships if they came nearby, but said later he was not changing the military’s rules of engagement.
The Bahrain-based U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement its notice was "designed to enhance safety, minimize ambiguity and reduce the risk of miscalculation”.
It follows an incident last month when the U.S. military claimed 11 IRGC naval vessels came close to U.S. Navy and coast guard ships in the Persian Gulf, calling the moves "dangerous and provocative”.
Tehran blamed U.S. troops for the incident and Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents U.S. interests in the country, over the recent tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador "because of the acts of harassment and provocation by American forces in the Persian Gulf”.
The ambassador received a note to relay to U.S. officials, in which the Islamic Republic has outlined its "strong protest” at the threats posed by the Americans, including the U.S. fleet’s "illegal and destabilizing presence and actions” in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf’s northern waters and the Iranian coasts.
According to the IRGC, American vessels earlier resorted to "unprofessional and perilous” behavior in the waters, "causing trouble” for one of its logistics ship that was conducting a routine patrol.
Friction between Tehran and Washington has risen since 2018, when Trump quit Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on the country.
Animosity reached historic heights in early January when top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad. Iran retaliated on Jan. 9 by firing missiles at bases in Iraq where U.S. troops were stationed.
The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps last month said Tehran would destroy U.S. warships if its security is threatened in the Persian Gulf.
"I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens security of Iran’s military or non-military ships,” Major General Hussein Salami said.
"I am telling the Americans that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, our water borders, our shipping safety, and our security forces, and we will respond decisively to any sabotage,” he added.
Iran considers the U.S. military presence in the Middle East a threat to the regional security.
According to a renowned Arab political analyst, the idea of war might cross Trump’s mind as a way out of the current downward spiral his America is stuck in amid the coronavirus crisis, but that begs the question of whether Washington has what it takes to make that "gamble”.
Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the Rai al-Youm news website, noted that the Iranian won’t back down in the face of U.S. threats, something they showed last year by downing the intruding Global Hawk drone of the U.S. Navy and most recently by conducting a missile strike on the U.S.-run Ain al-Assad base in Iraq.