The United States, Britain and France have begun to deploy troops in the Gulf in a move which experts say suggests preparations for a war with Iran. The first strikes could be carried out at the beginning of the summer, media reports say.
According to reports, troops are arriving at Masirah Island in Oman which is located south of the Strait of Hormuz where a US air base is deployed. Two American strike groups are currently stationed in the Gulf. Some reports say that the grouping will be reinforced with one more aircraft carrier, the destroyer Momsen and the nuclear submarine Annapolis. The US is also enhancing its presence in Israel and Kuwait. British troops and troops from the United Arab Emirates have been arriving in Saudi Arabia. The main target is Iran, whose nuclear program has long been an issue of particular concern in the West. Reports leaked out into the press that hundreds of penetration bombs capable of destroying heavily fortified underground bunkers have been delivered to an American base on the British Island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
The Strait of Hormuz, a major waterway for the transportation of Gulf oil to regions across the world, serves as yet another pretext for going into open confrontation. Tehran has threatened to block it, and the allies are getting ready to strike if it keeps its word. However, none of the countries involved is prepared for war, Vladimir Sazhin of the Institute of Oriental Studies, says.
“All countries involved in this conflict are facing domestic problems. An election race has got under way in the US. Parliamentary elections in Iran have been set for March 2nd, and presidential elections have been scheduled for the summer of 2013. France’s presidential elections are just round the corner, and Europe as a whole is too preoccupied with its own economic problems to handle another war.”
However, a concentration of military forces in the Gulf creates an explosive situation in the region. One accidental shot would be enough to trigger fire on both sides. If that happens, Vladimir Sazhin says, the allies will have a clear advantage.
“Should military operations start, the United States will send powerful naval groups backed by a large number of planes, and strategic bombers will fly from the Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean. The US will be joined by Britain, France and Arab oil-producing monarchies in the Gulf. Iran has no allies in the region. Syria is not in the best of shape to support it. Tehran can count only on Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly, on Hamas in Gaza.”
The most unpleasant thing about all this is that the deployment of troops in the Gulf and stoking tensions may disrupt talks between Iran and international organizations. Many countries, first of all Russia, believe that neither using force nor imposing sanctions will help resolve the conflict. Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has this to say.
“Sanctions have long become ineffective, so the Iranian issue has no room in the UN Security Council. The six-party talks on Iran and talks between the IAEA and Iran should take center stage on the international agenda because they give some hope. IAEA representatives are currently visiting Iran to look into the possibilities of arranging a six-party meeting with Iran. Even though there is hope, the increasing confrontation between the West and Iran is causing more and more concern. The Iran problem is going to be the hottest in 2012.”
All countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization share Russia’s concern. China is yet another major international player opposed to a military campaign against Iran. Unfortunately, neither protests from China, nor warnings from Russia have had any effect on the allies as they step up preparations for a new Middle East conflict.