Issue Brief on “Iran-US: Playing with fire in the Persian Gulf”

Iran has announced that it plans to construct two naval zones and three military bases on the coasts of Makran along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, an announcement that has caused spiraling apprehensions among the regional countries. But this news is bound to ruffle some feathers in the US establishment as this directly impacts its maritime security interests in the Persian Gulf. Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was reported saying that these construction projects were to secure all present and future maritime security interests of Iran, as well as to keep the merchant vessels safe from pirate attacks. The entire Iranian establishment presents a united front to follow through on this decision as the Supreme leader Ayatollah Khaminei has urged the Iranian navy to build these bases as a top priority project. Keeping in mind the history of US-Iran skirmishes in the waters of the Persian Gulf, this development raises many serious questions. Is this project a direct threat to the US naval presence in the Gulf, or is it solely an act of maximization of Iranian defense interests?

The US shall be wary of these constructions as they have already voiced their concerns about the Iranian vessels harassing theirs, while there have been about 31 encounters between the two in 2016 only. Such pronounced actions that symbolize aggression and enmity between the fleets of these two countries must not be taken lightly. The more important question, however, is whether this development can, in fact, protect Iranian security interests or not?

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