Dangerous Confrontation Between Iranian and US Ships

The Strait of Hormuz has great strategic importance as the route for large ships to take between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which leads to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The world has 40 percent of its petroleum products transported through the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf. A few days before the new year, Tehran threatened to block this strategically significant strait if the West imposes sanctions on their oil sales. The Strait of Hormuz is 195 km long and only 54 km wide, enabling them to easily blockade the Strait. Iran’s military and navy forces have been conducting naval training in the Strait — the northern segment of the Strait belongs to Iran, while the southern part belongs to the United Arab Emirates and Oman — and preparing the strait for a blockade.

On Dec. 28, a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and its accompanying vessels (five destroyer escorts and three escort carriers) approached the Strait in an attempt to prevent an Iranian blockade.

Hopefully, Iranian and U.S. ships will not get in a dangerous confrontation, as even a small maritime incident can escalate into a full-scale war where the Israeli air force may also get involved. The Strait of Hormuz has seen conflict between America and Iran three times already.

On April 18, 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War, the Pentagon conducted a day-long operation against Iran in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Four days earlier, a U.S. naval ship was destroyed by Iranian naval mines in the Gulf. Operation Praying Mantis was a response to this event, during which the United States destroyed a frigate and several other Iranian ships.

On July 3, 1988, U.S. missiles shot down an Iranian civilian airbus, killing 290 passengers. The U.S. naval crew justified the action by stating that they had identified the airbus as an Iranian military plane that was planing to attack American naval forces.

On January 6, 2008, an Iranian patrol boat came within 200 meters of three U.S. naval ships sailing in the strait. The risk of a serious clash between these two sides became real. Four years later, American and Iranian ships still stand against each other. The smallest maritime incident can lead to widespread bloodshed, which will put the whole world in harm’s way.

During a war with Iran, oil prices will drastically rise, boosting the economy of our neighbor, Russia. The high value of oil will give Russia profits that will strengthen the Kremlin. Without the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a barrel of oil would cost much less than it does today. A price drop would seriously impair the Russian economy. We should not forget one reason why the Soviet empire collapsed, the fall of oil prices. The Soviet Union’s economy, built on profits from oil, could not withstand the price’s decline.

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