The US Navy revealed Tuesday that its forces fired several ‘warning shots’ at Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels after they came in close contact with US warships in the Persian Gulf on Monday. Earlier, US media accused Iran of “swarming” and “harassing” US Coast Guard ships using small patrol boats at the beginning of the month.
The United States is the “main source of insecurity” in the Persian Gulf region, and uses its presence to pressure other countries, including its European allies, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf – speaker of Iran’s parliament, has said.
“The United States wants to gain influence over the region and the global economy through presence in the Persian Gulf,” Qalibaf said, speaking at a virtual conference dedicated to Persian Gulf security hosted by the Supreme National Defence University in Tehran on Wednesday, his remarks cited by local media.
“It also wants to exercise power even on the European powers in a bid to maintain the security of the Zionist regime in this sensitive region, which plays a very important role in the global energy supply and serves as the engine that propels the economic sector forward,” he added, referring to the roughly one fifth of all seaborne oil trade passing through the Persian Gulf each day.
Along with insecurity, Qalibaf suggested that the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf “leads to the destruction of economic opportunities in the region and beyond.”
He stressed, however, that the Islamic Republic had “cut off [the US’s] hands from the north of the Persian Gulf” through its pursuit of an independent foreign policy, and expressed hope that eventually, other countries would “together rid them of their foothold in the region and celebrate a day when foreign troops are expelled from the Persian Gulf.”
The official’s comments come in the wake of two incidents involving the alleged “harassment” of US ships by Revolutionary Guard Navy cutters as they passed through waters in the Persian Gulf. The first incident, said to have taken place over a 3 hour period on 2 April but left unreported until Monday, was the first of its kind under President Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, the US Navy reported on a second incident said to have taken place Monday and involving the firing of ‘warning shots’ at Iranian vessels as they again approached US vessels.
Similar maritime incidents took place repeatedly under Donald Trump, with Washington threatening to blow Iranian gunboats out of the water if they didn’t stop “harassing” the US vessels last year.
On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that “unsafe and unprofessional activity” by the Revolutionary Guards was “not new,” but rather a “persistent problem for a long time.” The spokesman added that the US doesn’t “want to see miscalculations” in such incidents.
In 2019, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani invited all countries adjacent to the Persian Gulf to join an Iranian-led initiative known as the “Coalition of Hope” to ensure security in the Persian Gulf region independently of outside powers.