Cheney's Shadow Behind New Show of Force; Nine Warships Enter Persian Gulf Today

23 de may de 2007

<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>Cheney's Shadow Behind New Show of Force In Persian Gulf</h1><p>May 23 (LPAC)--Nine U.S. warships carrying 17,000 personnel have entered the Persian Gulf today, in a show of force off Iran's coast. U.S. Navy officials said on May 23 that this was the largest daytime assembly of ships since the 2003 Iraq invasion began, AFP reported. In addition, this "flag march at sea" into the Gulf was done this morning in daylight, whereas military analysts say such naval entries usually take place at night.</p><p>Rear Admiral Kevin Quinn, the group leader on board the USS Stennis, said, "What is special about this, is that you have two strike groups. Everybody will see us, because it is in daylight." Quinn says the ships will conduct exercises as part of a long-planned effort to assure regional allies of U.S. commitment to Gulf security. "There is always the threat of any state, or non-state actor, that might decide to close one of the international straits, and the biggest one is the Straits of Hormuz." The reference was clearly to Iran.</p><p>What is of particular interest to the observers is the statement by U.S. Navy officials, who said the decision to send a second aircraft carrier was made at a last minute, without giving a reason. According to AFP, the officials said Iran had not been notified of plans to sail the ships--which include the aircraft carriers <em>USS Nimitz</em> and <em>USS Stennis</em> --through the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow channel in international waters off Iran's coast and a major artery for global oil shipments.</p><p>DEBKAfile, reporting from Israel, notes that the maneuvers are taking place less than two weeks after Vice President Dick Cheney visited the region, and informed Saudi King Abdullah and fellow Gulf rulers that President George W. Bush has determined that if Iran refuses to waive a nuclear weapon capability, the United States will attack its nuclear, military and economic infrastructure before he leaves the White House in Jan. 2009.</p></div></body>