By Ilya Kramnik
The US is sending its aircraft carrier John Stennis, accompanied by warships and a submarine, to the Persian Gulf, where it will replace the Enterprise aircraft carrier. The John Stennis will start its mission in the Gulf four months ahead of schedule, and its deployment will allow the US Central Command to keep two aircraft carriers in the region.
A possibility of a new conflict in the Middle East remains high, with Washington seeking to continue to have a free hand, according to Moscow-based Middle East expert Yevgeny Satanovsky.
“All signs point to a strong possibility of a war in the Gulf,” Satanovsky says, praising an array of attempts to prevent this war. “Right now, efforts are being made to ease pressure on Iran, improve ties between Tehran and the Arab countries and unblock the Iranian-Israeli conflict. I don’t rule out that the US President will have to take a decision to meddle in the military conflict or launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, something that stipulates the US President having a host of relevant instruments for the purpose.”
At present, the possibility of the conflict remains as high as at the beginning of this year, when many believed that the war was inevitable. At the time, all those war-related speculations prompted the US to dispatch the Enterprise aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf even though the warship was to be mothballed in the spring of 2012, says Moscow-based defense expert Konstantin Bogdanov.
“This is little more than a planned rotation,” Bogdanov says. “The Enterprise’s terms of service has repeatedly been prolonged, and it is only natural that it will be replaced with the John Stennis aircraft carrier. This is a sign that Americans are poised to keep its naval task force of two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region,” he concludes.
Meanwhile, experts say that the two carriers’ arsenal will hardly be enough to launch a full-blown air campaign against Iran. In this vein, speaking of a possible war in the Gulf is now irrelevant, they say, adding, however, that the potential deployment of a third US aircraft carrier would add significantly to the possibility of a war.