~ Where the Sun Will Never Set on Our liberty ~
Iran deployed two warships off Yemen threatening to further escalate tensions after the U.S. fired Tomahawk cruise missiles destroying three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.
Iran sent the ships to the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's most vital shipping routes, "to protect trade vessels from piracy," Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
Still, analysts warn the move could ratchet up the danger to U.S. forces in the region. U.S. intelligence has linked Iran to the funding of Yemen's Shiite rebels, who have also waged a series of attacks against Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally.
The U.S. official said the Houthis indeed fired missiles targeting American ships twice over just four days. The ships were not hit. The U.S. destroyed the coastal radar sites early Thursday.
Fox News is told one of the Iranian ships carries the same type of anti-ship missiles the Houthis were suspected of firing this week, and the other ship carries a helicopter. White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the U.S. would not speculate on the Iranians' intentions.
A U.S. official told Fox News a Chinese warship and Russian intelligence ship were in the same region Thursday.
In January, Iran's Revolutionary Guard captured 10 U.S. Navy sailors after their two boats drifted into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The Americans were released roughly 16 hours later. The U.S. also accused Iran of engaging in dozens of "unsafe and unprofessional" interactions with the U.S. Navy, including the shadowing of a U.S. patrol ship last month.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said President Barack Obama authorized the strikes at the recommendation of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. He added that these were limited self-defense strikes conducted to protect U.S. personnel, ships and freedom of navigation.
The USS Nitze launched the missiles, Cook added.
Meanwhile, the state news agency Saba -- under Houthis' control -- quoted an unnamed military official as saying that U.S. accusations that a U.S. destroyer had come under attack from areas under control of Houthis were false.
Sharaf Loqman, spokesman for the Yemeni Army, called it an "American farce to find a reason to interfere in Yemen directly after failure of the Saudis."
He said that the army never targets ships outside the territorial waters and only those that enter the Yemeni waters come under attack.
The missile attacks came on the heels of two other attacks against Saudi sites. A ballistic missile fired from Yemen apparently targeted a Saudi air base near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, the deepest strike yet into the kingdom by Shiite rebels and their allies. The rebels fired another two missiles into the Saudi Jizan region along the border on Monday, wounding two foreigners who worked there, the local civil defense said in a statement.
The Houthis and their allies have offered no reason for the launches, though they came after a Saudi-led airstrike targeting a funeral in Yemen's capital killed more than 140 people and wounded 525 on Saturday.
The U.S. cruise missile launches come as the U.S. considers withdrawing its support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis following Saturday's airstrike on the funeral and other troubling incidents of civilian casualties as a result of the Saudi bombing campaign.
Human rights groups have expressed outrage over the deaths and accused the U.S. of complicity, leading the White House to say it was conducting a "review" to ensure U.S. cooperation with longtime partner Saudi Arabia is in line with "U.S. principles, values and interests."
The last missile attack on a U.S. Naval ship was on the USS Stark in May 1987, which was in the middle of a six-month patrol in the Persian Gulf when it was hit by two missiles fired from an Iraqi fighter plane. A total of 37 sailors were killed during the attack.
hey missed, but when Iranian-backed rebels fired missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen, it signaled a new and dangerous escalation in the hostility with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The ship was definitely targeted, U.S. defense officials said, with the attack coming a week after the Navy sent warships to the area when a UAE-flagged ship was destroyed off the coast of Yemen by Houthi rebels, Fox News is reporting.
We also recently learned that it is very likely that the missiles fired at the American Navy were financed by the Obama administration’s ransom payment to the Iranians.
Once the smoke cleared, the U.S. Navy was able to send some payback to where the missiles were fired from, and boy did it send a message.
It's Obama's move next. I sure am glad he has that peace prize that he can use to justify folding like gossamer in a slight breeze.
I think we are on the verge of some very nasty stuff about to happen.
Could be. However, don't forget about our submarines that protect our surface ships.
While the US has conducted lethal attacks in Yemen against al-Qaida forces throughout Obama’s presidency, killing civilians as well as US nationals, Wednesday’s reprisal strikes were Washington’s first against the Houthis. They raised the prospect of deeper US involvement in what many in the region and Washington see as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Houthi missiles have also struck deeper into Saudi Arabia and on Monday were reported to have struck the Taif airbase near Mecca.
The US has supported the Saudis with aerial refuelling and highly controversial arms sales but the Obama administration has recently attempted to distance itself from the Yemen conflict. After Saudi airstrikes on Saturday targeted a funeral and left 140 dead the White House rebuked Riyadh, saying that its aid to a war begun in March 2015 was “not a blank check.”
That was before a US navy ship came under fire from territory controlled by the Houthis. Missiles fired at the Mason did not damage the ship but left many in Washington wondering if the US would be drawn deeper into the conflict following an apparent decision by the Houthis or their Iranian patrons to target the Mason.
Earlier on Wednesday Admiral John Richardson, the chief of US naval operations, had praised the Mason crew and suggested retaliation for the missile strikes was imminent.
“These unjustified attacks are serious but they will not deter us from our mission. We are trained and ready to defend ourselves and to respond quickly and decisively,” Richardson said.
Months of disquieting and needless escalation between the United States and Russia over Syria and the Asia-Pacific theater quickened feverishly to near outright hostility over the past 48 hours, and — considering semantics from both ends suggestive of antebellum blame-casting — it’s past time to pay attention.
Indeed, though a few analysts still dismissively liken the tensions to so much blustery rhetoric, a growing number contend obstinate U.S. posturing about Russian aggression hasn’t been taken so lightly by President Vladimir Putin and his rapidly amassing allies.
Additionally, it now seems the U.S. has backed its incessant finger-pointing with the subtle language necessary to undertake what could best, if ironically, be termed a ‘defensive first strike.’
While full-scale nuclear war might indeed be an outside possibility at this early date, the specter of full military engagement is quickly materializing on several fronts. To understand how we arrived so near this precipice, a series of events and statements over the previous month should be considered contextually with those of the last two days.
After officially accusing the Russian government on Friday of attempting to influence the presidential election by hacking into and leaking documents from the Democratic National Committee servers — which, despite fast efforts to save face, undoubtedly tarnished the reputations of party members and nominee Hillary Clinton — President Obama offered an
alarming statement Tuesday giving that accusation sharp teeth.
“There are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that is proportional,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest, quoted by Reuters, told media aboard Air Force One. “It is certainly possible that the president can choose response options that we never announce.”
Speculation on an unnamed option largely centered around some form of cyber response, given the original accusation of hacking — however, it must be noted, two years ago the Obama administration deemed hacking an act of cyberterrorism and an utmost security priority — ‘terrorism’ being of critical relevance given the ongoing war against it.
Notably, U.S. officials have previously asserted cyber attacks, in some cases, could elicit a military response.
Without unassailable proof the Russian government hacked the DNC, any putative ‘response’ by the U.S. — proportional or not, cyber-oriented or not — would inherently be an aggressive first strike. Given the dispute over definitive evidence tracing the hack to Russia, any follow-through could conceivably be considered an act of war and/or terrorism.
As such, an actual response of any nature has been posited unlikely — however, in consideration of last week’s belligerent remarks by U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, downplaying the potential for a response could be foolhardy.
“The strategic resolve of our nation, the United States, is being challenged and our alliances tested in ways that we haven’t faced in many, many decades,” Milley told attendees of an annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army.
“I want to be clear to those who wish to do us harm … the United States military — despite all of our challenges, despite our [operational] tempo, despite everything we have been doing — we will stop you and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”
Milley went on to note Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran have “revised their own doctrines” and “are rapidly modernizing their military today to avoid our strengths in hopes of defeating us at some point in the future.”
Quoting an unnamed senior Russian official, Milley advised “Russia can now fight a conventional war in Europe and win.”
Whether or not Russian military would wind up fighting in Europe could be an entirely moot issue, as NATO has been amassing thousands of troops in Eastern Europe under the premise of protecting nervous nations from possible invasion. That assemblage of troops has been cited by Russia as posing an aggressive nuclear threat — which officials from the U.S. and its allies have laughed off as absurd.
“Across the Atlantic, we’re refreshing NATO’s nuclear playbook — to better integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence, to ensure we plan and train like we’d fight, and to deter Russia from thinking it can benefit from nuclear use in a conflict with NATO,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carterstated September 29.
Russian Foreign Ministry officials responded by reiterating the perception of American aggression, as quoted by the Washington Post, “Carter’s statement means that if Russia comes under attack from U.S. allies, the Americans will be ready to back it and threaten to use their nuclear weapons against us. We would like to think that Washington understands the meaning of such statements and their possible consequences for international security and stability.”
On Tuesday, a startlingly broad ‘recommendation’ published in Znak, Russian state officials and government workers were advised to immediately pull family members from study abroad programs — or any other endeavors — in Europe to return to the motherland. Translated byZero Hedge and cited by Znak, political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky — albeit noting the controversy of the recommendation — said, in part, “this is all part of a package of measures to prepare the elites for some ‘big war’ even if it is rather conditional …”
Also on Tuesday, Putin abruptly canceled a planned trip to Paris over the unraveling situation in Syria.
Russia also issued two altogether unambiguous admonitions last Thursday, stating continued U.S. endeavors in Syria could lead to all-out war.
“I would like to caution Washington’s colleagues to carefully consider the possible consequences of such plans,” said Russian Major General Igor Konashenkov in a statement, adding, “I remind U.S. strategists that air cover for the Russian military bases in Tartus and Hmeymim includes S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, the range of which may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects.”
Observers rightly focused on the latter portion of the previous statement as a warning to the United States that Russia would not hesitate to strike first, ask no questions later — since it would be justified in defending ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in a sovereign nation by request.
However, the second warning — after the U.S. bombing of Assad’s troops in mid-September flared contention — constitutes, in actuality, the greater portent.
Konashenkov, as Underground Reporter noted, “made clear Russia has a number of servicemen and aid workers in several communities in Aleppo, and that ‘any strikes on territories controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat’ to Russian citizens.”
Dropping all pretenses, he added, “I am warning anyone, that after the U.S.-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17 in Deir ez-Zor, we will take all necessary measures to prevent other American ‘mistakes’ against the Russian military or other military facilities in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.”
China, which had originally intimated support for Russia over the U.S. quest to oust Assad, has fomented its alliance in recent days. According to one analyst, there “is no question that there is correlation, coherence and coordination between Russia and China on the Syrian issue.”
Russia has similarly indicated it would back China over the intricate territorial dispute in the South and East China Seas, particularly in defense against meddling by the United States and its ally South Korea — who will shortly deploy the U.S.’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) amid contention from both rival nations, as well as its citizenry.
Although THAAD ostensibly could only be deployed in a defensive capacity, China and Russia criticize its proximity to the Chinese border as an act of direct aggression. On Tuesday the two nations announced plans to hold their second joint anti-missiles drill in 2017. According to a nationalist outlet cited by Reuters, Chinese Major Gen. Cai Jun stated,
“The United States’ blind development of anti-missile systems that exceed demand and its search for absolute unilateral military superiority inevitably damage global strategic equilibrium and gravely harm major powers’ strategic trust.”
* * *
One article could not do justice to the multi-fronted, labyrinthine conflict as it now stands, but with the current situation described by some as moredangerous than even the Cuban Missile Crisis — which nearly drew the U.S. into the first nuclear war — it would perhaps be advisable to focus on swiftly-unfolding international news rather than exhaustively debatinglesser-evilism.
As former Soviet Union leader and Nobel Prize-winner Mikhail Gorbachevcautioned Monday,
“I think the world has reached a dangerous point.”