Monday, December 26, 2011
Iran's War Games: 'An Important Message..Especially To The Colonialist Powers'
The Iranian navy is in the process of staging Velayat 90, a ten day military 'exercise' covering an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden,the entrance to the Indian Ocean.
The regime's official PRESS-TV quotes member of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Zohreh Elahian as saying: “The [Iranian] Navy's military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman indicate the power and dominance of Iran's Navy in regional waters. The exercises send an important message to the whole world, especially the colonialist powers…and also show the power of [Iran's] armed forces, particularly [the country's] Navy.”
Elahian also added that 'foreign media' have admitted that Iran and its Navy are so powerful that if threatened, the country can take control of the Strait of Hormuz as the global economic and energy conduit.
The last one, of course, is the kicker and the real purpose of this display.
In an actual brawl with, say, the US Navy, Iran's navy would find itself overpowered in a hurry. Their line ships consist of three destroyers over 50 years old and a mere handful of light frigates and corvettes. Some of these ships date from the 1970's but sport more modern anti-ship missiles like Chinese C-802's, most of which date from the mid-1990's. They also have two of what they call 'missile boats', essentially large patrol boats with extra missile launchers.They're both Iranian built, with all that implies.
The main emphasis of Iran's navy is submarines and patrol boats designed for coastal defense.The best of the subs are 3 Russian SSK Kilo class, with most of the rest being mini-subs or 'midget' class, like the Tareq and Qadir types mentioned in the PRESS TV article.Again, except for the SSK's, most of them are Iranian manufactured.
None of them would hold up for very long against a carrier group, especially since Iran's air force is, shall we say, marginal.
That's exactly why the second part of Zohreh Elahian's official statement is the important one.
The main mission of Iran's navy in the event of hostilities with be to lay mines and otherwise obstruct the Persian Gulf oil flow through the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway only thirty four miles (54 kilometers) at its narrowest point.
Nearly 25% of the world's oil supply flows through the Strait on a daily basis,and since the Strait, like most of the Persian Gulf is essentially a shallow basin, the actual shipping area consists of two 2-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a 2-mile wide buffer zone.
What the Iranians are actually doing here is sending a message to President Barack Obama, as well as to the new Shi'ite government of Iran and other Arab governments in the Gulf.
Iran undoubtedly has its suspicions that President Obama might just try to pull off an October Surprise in 2012 to bolster his re-election campaign by attacking Iran. They also want him and surrogates like Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton to keep the Israelis from taking out Iran's nuclear sites. The current naval exercises and accompanying threats are Iran's way of reminding President Obama that such an attack might just result in blocking the Strait and a spike in oil prices that would damage the American economy. The fact that Iran would also suffer, since its oil resources sit on the Gulf is secondary, and they're hoping that a threat to a weak and ineffectual president is going to be enough to buy time. Once Iran has nuclear weapons, they figure they'll be as untouchable as North Korea.
The other message being sent is to Iraq and the other Arab Gulf states. Simply put. it reads: "The Americans are leaving with their tails between their legs, and they won't protect you.We're the new power in the region, we can bankrupt you at our whim and you'd be unwise not acknowledge that and behave accordingly."
I'm reminded of how President Reagan acted to similar Iranian provocation back in the 1980's, but then he was a very different president.