Iranian Embarrassed Themselves as Navy Ship Fires on One of Its Own Vessels
American servicemen have a saying that goes “Friendly fire isn’t.” The Iranian Navy has learned that lesson during maneuvers in the Gulf of Oman. Fox News explains:
“An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise struck a support ship in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday, killing 19 sailors and injuring 15 others, according to a report on Monday. The missile struck Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship, which Iranian media said was too close to a target during the exercise. The incident was called an accident. The ship that fired the missile was a Moudge-class frigate called Jamaran. The missile reportedly struck the Konarak ship, Iran’s Tasnim news agency said.”
The Iranian Navy regularly holds maneuvers in the region, which is close to the Straits of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world. The maneuvers are meant to demonstrate that, at any time, Iran may seek to close the straits to oil tanker traffic. However, such a move would almost certainly be countered by the United States Navy, which operates several ships in the region.
The maneuvers and the mishap takes place against a backdrop of several provocative moves on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iranian speedboats have regularly buzzed American ships with weapons hot. President Trump has ordered the navy to blow any Iranian vessel that approaches too close out of the water.
Iran is under considerable pressure thanks to economic sanctions imposed by the United States, rock bottom oil prices, and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers of Iranians who have been infected and those who have died from the disease are currently not known outside of Iran. Official government numbers are suspect, with western intelligence agencies suspecting that Tehran is downplaying the extent of the damage that the pandemic is causing inside the Islamic Republic.
Business Insider notes that the maneuvers were supposed to demonstrate Iran’s prowess on the oceans. The accidental missile launch has had quite the opposite effect.
“Sunday’s exercise was intended to spotlight the long-range capabilities of Iran’s top domestically produced guided-missile frigate, the Jamaran, which is considered the most capable in Iran’s navy. The Jamaran was supposed to fire a sophisticated guided missile in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday at a target being towed by a support ship, according to social media posts and Telegram messages translated by the BBC and The New York Times. But confusion over the release of the target and the timing of the missile launch sent the projectile into the support ship instead.”
The tensions in the Persian Gulf region and the provocative behavior of the Iranian military started last January when the United States assassinated Qassem Suliemani, the head of the terrorist Al Kuds force, in a drone strike near the Baghdad Airport. Two days later, Iranian antiaircraft batteries mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner near the Tehran Airport, apparently mistaking it for an American military plane.
Thus far President Trump has been reluctant to engage Iran militarily. He has expressed skepticism about entering into another Middle East war, the idea being that the ones the United States has engaged in since 9/11 have been a waste of lives and treasure. Trump has preferred to use economic and diplomatic pressure against Iran, along with the occasional cyberattack, to keep things from boiling over.
For Trump, the main national security threat to the United States is China, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which many blame on Beijing for covering up the extent of the disease when it first broke out in Wuhan. Iran is certainly a potential danger, for its support of terrorism and its pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.
Iran has been engaged in a low-level war against Israel for quite some time. Iranians, according to the Times of Israel, attempted to conduct a cyberattack against the Jewish state’s water infrastructure. Israel is currently mulling how to respond.
In the meantime, Israel has achieved some success in driving out Iranian military units from Syria. Relentless Israeli airstrikes have left the Iranian position in Syria untenable. Indeed, some security experts believe that if military strikes on Iran are considered necessary, they may be carried out by Israel with American and Gulf Arab support.