A U.S. Navy vessel fired warning shots at ships under the command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf after the Iranian vessels harassed a U.S. patrol.
The USS Firebolt, a coastal patrol boat, fired the warning shots after Revolutionary Guard’s fast-attack boats got too close to the Firebolt and a Coast Guard patrol boat.
“The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio and loud-hailer devices, but the [Guard] vessels continued their close-range maneuvers,” said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the 5th Fleet. “The crew of Firebolt then fired warning shots, and the [Guard] vessels moved away to a safe distance from the U.S. vessels.”
The Navy released black-and-white footage of the encounter Monday night in international waters of the northern reaches of the Persian Gulf. In it, lights can be seen in the distance and what appears to be a single gunshot can be heard, with a tracer round racing across the top of the water.
Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident.
Iran has been playing these little games for months. They’re like a bunch of two-year-olds trying to get an adult’s attention. And if they keep it up, they’re liable to get a spanking.
The incident Monday marked the second time the Navy accused the Guard of operating in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner this month alone after tense encounters between the forces had dropped in recent years.
Footage released Tuesday by the Navy showed a ship commanded by the Guard cut in front of the USCGC Monomoy, causing the Coast Guard vessel to come to an abrupt stop with its engine smoking on April 2.
The Guard also did the same with another Coast Guard vessel, the USCGC Wrangell, Rebarich said. Such close passes risk collisions.
The Persian Gulf is not an ideal battlespace for U.S. warships. Besides, if the Rev Guard wants to provoke the United States Navy, it’s not going to be much of a battle.
An interesting note is that during the last two years of the Trump administration, Iran had ceased these dangerous and unprofessional close encounters when tensions were at their highest point.
Now that Joe Biden is president and wants to remake the nuclear deal, Iran has decided it’s the perfect time to poke the American lion with a stick to see if he responds.
Some analysts believe the incidents are meant in part to squeeze President Hassan Rouhani’s administration after the 2015 nuclear deal. They include a 2016 incident in which Iranian forces captured and held overnight 10 U.S. sailors who strayed into the Islamic Republic’s territorial waters.
For more than 40 years, it’s been impossible to deal with the Iranian government because of this rabid factionalism. Religious factionalism, cultural factionalism, and the personal factions of prominent clerics have complicated Iranian internal politics and how they present themselves to the world.
The Revolutionary Guard is under the direct command of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, so there’s no mistaking the message he’s sending to Biden: we can’t be intimidated, so if you want a deal, give us what we want.