Relations between the United States and Iran have been rocky for decades. During the 1979 revolution in Iran, 52 American hostages were taken and held for more than a year by Iranian Revolutionary Guards military forces. An American military operation to rescue the hostages during that time failed. In recent years, Washington has been worried about Iranian attempts to develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons for military use.
Tensions between the two countries seemed to be easing with the recent signing of an agreement to ease economic sanctions on Iran and a money payment, in exchange for the Iranians curbing their nuclear development program. But major differences continue to simmer over ballistic weapons development and the ongoing Iranian military role in the civil war in Syria and Iraq.
The reason for the latest trend of Iranian military vessels harassing American ships in the Gulf is attributed to different reasons. One is that the Iranian regime is trying to further exert its influence in the area as a regional power, reports CNN. Iran considers the Americans, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to be its main rivals in the Middle Eastern and Gulf regions. Another reason for the recent Iranian provocations may be to get a military reaction from American forces and then use that to stir up popular anger at the United States among the Iranian population.
The Iranian military vessels harassing the USS Firebolt were small and speedy boats known as fast in-shore attack craft. The military crafts are considered separate entities from the regular Iranian navy. The speedboat crews answer directly to the Iranian government. These military commanders are given wider powers to act "boldly and courageously," reports USNI News.
[Photo by Vahid Salemi/AP Images]