After being swept aside in the tumult over the campaign and the President’s victory in the election, disturbing news emerged Thursday concerning the increasing tensions between the United States and Iran. Responding to a question from a CNN reporter, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little admitted that two Iranian SU-25 fighter jets opened fire on an unarmed US Predator drone in international airspace on November 1, 2012.
“Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace. It was always flying in international air space. The recognized limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast and we never entered the 12 nautical mile limit.”
The United States has registered a strong protest with the Iranian government over the incident. Iran remains defiant, saying her Air Force will continue to defend Iranian airspace with lethal force. Even critics of the President joined the fray, claiming Mr.Obama deliberately withheld any announcement of the attack until after the election to avoid exposing the failure of his foreign policy.
The Iranian fighters fired on the drone over the Persian Gulf and then pursued it when the Predator’s remote operator attempted to evade their attack. American military intelligence analysts have not determined if the Iranian pilots lacked the skill to damage the drone or whether they were simply bluffing in an attempt to provoke a violent response from the United States.
Iran’s aggressive behavior is causing great concern for the Obama Administration, according to senior officials who declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the incident. The attack on the drone coincides with last Friday’s massive demonstrations in Iran to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the takeover of the United States Embassy. Several speakers denounced the rumors of renewed talks on Iran’s nuclear program, including General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of the Revolutionary Guard, who told the crowd:
“Today we commemorate the conquering of the castle of Satan! Hear me now, we condemn all sorts of secret talks!”
Only hours after Obama was re-elected, the head of the Iranian judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, delivered a blistering condemnation of US sanctions and warned the President his victory would not lead to a resumption of the stalled negotiations. Larijani trumpeted the Ayatollah’s party line and made it clear Iran remains determined to challenge the United States every step of the way:
“After all this pressure and crimes against the people of Iran, relations with America cannot be possible overnight and Americans should not think they can hold our nation to ransom by coming to the negotiating table.”
Obama pledged to do everything in his power to prevent Iran from acting on her repeated threats to blow Israel off the face of the earth or nuking one of the oil rich Arab kingdoms in an attempt to start a bloodbath between Shia and Sunni Muslims. In addition to destabilizing the entire Middle East by developing nuclear weapons, Iran might conduct a proxy war by giving an atomic device, or radioactive materials for a dirty bomb, to one of the many terrorist groups the country supports and finances.
Further compounding the situation, much of the world’s oil supply passes through the shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf and Iran has repeatedly threatened to close down the highly vulnerable Strait of Hormuz to stop the tankers from reaching their destinations. The impact on the world economy would be catastrophic; especially considering the current financial crisis facing much of the developed world.
In an attempt to back up the rhetoric and show the world how easy it would be to shut down the flow of oil, Iran conducted several well advertised naval exercises in the Gulf during the last few months. The United States responded by bringing in the USS John C. Stennis and the USS Abraham Lincoln. The two giant American aircraft carriers steamed through the Strait of Hormuz with warplanes at the ready and guns bristling. Clearly, tensions are high and both sides are committed to playing a very dangerous game of cat and mouse. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and the United States will not be drawn into another endless foreign war.