July 22, 2008
In order to enforce the seriousness of the U.S.-EU position against Iran with the threat of serious sanctions Debka reports a dozen warships from the U.S.-UK-France and a Brazilian frigate began ten days of maneuvers Monday in the Atlantic off the U.S. coast to practice the blockading of Iran’s coast in the Strait of Hormuz.
The exercises have been called "Operation Brimstone" and are lead by the USS Theodore Rooselvelt Carrier Strike group and the USS Iwo Jima Expedtionary Strike Group which carries ground forces trained in operating in shallow coastal-littoral waters and the seizure of islands like the ones in the Strait of Hormuz, Qeshm for example. The narrow island is about fifty miles long and just a few miles off Bandar Abbas believed to be the headquarters of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the small islands in the strait are manned by Revolutionary Guard Marines. [DEBKA]
Knesset -The IRGC will no doubt have Iranian air and naval support as the combined U.S.-EU forces attempt to enforce a blockade intended to target shipments of benzene and other refined oil products as they head for Iranian ports. Iran does not have much oil refining capacity and therefore has to import 40% of its benzene.
France24 recorded British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech in front of Israel’s Knesset in Jerusalem in which he reinforced the two week sanctions ultimatum by EU foreign policy representative Javier Solana and U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, "Iran now has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear programme and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response not of just one nation but of all nations round the world. Just as we heave led the work of three mandatory sanctions resolutions of the UN, the UK will continue to lead-with the United States and our European Union partners-in our determination to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons programme." [FRANCE24]
Tehran – But Iran made its "confrontation"-war decision quite some time ago as PressTV reports Iran conducted its recent maneuvers, including the firing of long range missiles, in response to these threats. Frankly Iran’s maneuvers were made in anticipation of (f)allout war as Tehran knew the West would have to militarily confront the implication of the range of Iran’s missiles which can reach Europe. This is the culmination of Tehran’s foreign policy, Islamic agenda, and the final preparations for a war designed to defeat the West and give massive support to Pakistan and if successful Tehran will be at the center of a new re-alignment of international power with Iran at the center, replacing a defeated West. [PRESSTV]
And Tehran is aware one dose not achieve that by trying to conquer the desert and sand of Israel. The "wipeout" statements by Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a planned distraction as Tehran completed preparations to attack its main target. So I suspect Iran’s leadership is saying the West is finally acknowledging what we have known for years was inevitable and enemy forces will be operating in a confined area right off our coast, a naval-maritime trap like Iraq-Afghanistan.
Participating in the Operation Brimstone maneuvers is the British HMS Illustrious Carrier Strike Group and the French submarine Amethyste. There are also French Rafale fighter jets on board the Theodore Roosevelt alongside U.S. aircraft. In addition to preventing benzene from arriving Operation Brimstone is also intended to prevent Iran’s attacks on oil shipping leaving the Persian Gulf for world ports.
After a briefing by Under Secretary of State William Burns, who took part in the Geneva negotiations, Secretary of State Rice met in Abu Dhabi the representatives of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states and officials from Egypt-Jordan-Iraq.
Pentagon – GoNavy.jp not only mentions these maneuvers but seems to indicate the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is still on station in the North Arabian Sea and if so could be used in support of the blockade. These maneuvers are due to end July 31 just two days before the end of the ultimatum delivered by the U.S.-EU. [GONAVY]
Diplomacy and negotiations has obviously run their course so all that is left now is Tehran’s attack on the blockade which I assume will be attempted in August after perhaps one more round of ultimatums. Iran has been warning, for at least the past few years, their response to sanctions will eventually be war.
Other than the allies currently taking part in Operation Brimstone the two most likely to respond once the shooting starts will be Germany-Japan especially the later since of all the industrialized nations Japan is the most dependent on oil from the Persian Gulf. In late 2004 Tokyo made its military policy offensive right after Iran’s oil minister stated publicly Tehran wanted China to be the main importer of Iran’s oil and gas instead of Japan. Since then Tokyo has maintained extremely serious diplomatic contact with Tehran on a daily basis and maintains close relations with Persian Gulf states as Japan insisted on a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In the fall of 2006 Japan pulled out of a Persian Gulf development project in an Iranian field when they realized there would be no peaceful resolution.
Other than attacks on the blockade Tehran could have fighting increase in other regional theatres: West Asia around Israel, to reduce the chance of any joint operation between the U.S.-Israel on Iran’s known nuclear installations, Central Asia-Afghanistan to force NATO to be more on the defensive and in Southeast Europe using Albanian groups to attack Serbs in Kosovo. Tehran knows Belgrade has re-armed and supports Serbia by having signed a security agreement in 2006. The Balkans is Iran’s avenue of invasion into Europe which I assume will begin after ballistic missile launchings.
Night Watch Information Service