While Americans are transfixed by the GOP primary drama in Iowa, a volatile area of the always volatile Middle East is heating up — the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran recently moved a fleet of its naval ships into the strait and is threatening to blockade the waterway, which is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, if the United States and Europe proceed with their imposition of a tight oil embargo on their country in an effort to thwart its development of nuclear weapons.
The strait, the only outlet from the Persian Gulf, is a critical shipping lane, with 17 million barrels of oil per day passing through in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
Clifford Kraus of the New York Times reports, Jan. 4, 2012, that more than 85% of the oil and most of the natural gas that flows through the strait goes to China, Japan, India, South Korea and other Asian nations. But a blockade would have a ripple effect on global oil prices.
Energy analysts say even a partial blockage of the Strait of Hormuz could raise the world price of oil within days by $50 a barrel or more, and that would quickly push the price of a gallon of regular gasoline to well over $4 a gallon. Just the threat of such a development has helped keep oil prices above $100 a barrel in recent weeks despite a return of Libyan oil to world markets.
American officials have warned Iran against violating international laws that protect commercial shipping in international waters, adding that the Navy would guarantee free sea traffic.
Iran reacted by warning the United States not to return a U.S. aircraft carrier group “to the Persian Gulf region.” Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, commander of Iran’s army, said his country “will not adopt any irrational move, but it is ready to severely react against any threat,” the Islamic Republic News Agency said.
Now there are rumors that the Pentagon is sending thousands of troops to Israel, with Iran being the unspoken target.
Yesterday, Jan. 4, 2012, an article in Global Research claims:
“…the US military is preparing to send thousands of US troops, along with US Naval anti-missile ships and accompanying support personnel, to Israel.
It took forever to find a second source for confirmation of this story and both relatively mainstream media outlets are in Israel. With one source saying the military deployment and corresponding exercises are to occur in January, the source providing most of the details suggests it will occur later this spring. Calling it not just an ‘exercise’, but a ‘deployment’, the Jerusalem Post quotes US Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc, Commander of the US Third Air Force based in Germany. The US Commander visited Israel two weeks ago to confirm details for ‘the deployment of several thousand American soldiers to Israel.’ In an effort to respond to recent Iranian threats and counter-threats, Israel announced the largest ever missile defense exercise in its history. Now, it’s reported that the US military, including the US Navy, will be stationed throughout Israel, also taking part.
While American troops will be stationed in Israel for an unspecified amount of time, Israeli military personnel will be added to EUCOM in Germany. EUCOM stands for United States European Command.
In preparation for anticipated Iranian missile attacks upon Israel, the US is reportedly bringing its THAAD, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and ship-based Aegis ballistic missile systems to Israel. The US forces will join Israeli missile defense systems like the Patriot and Arrow. The deployment comes with ‘the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East’.”
Read rest of article here.
Meanwhile, because of the federal government’s $15+ trillion debt, the Obama administration is trimming its budget by cutting tens of thousands of ground troops and supposedly investing more in air and sea power.
H/t beloved fellows KhetaAmenti and Tina.