The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 71/No. 4           January 29, 2007  
U.S. naval buildup in Gulf targets Iran
(front page)
Washington’s escalation of the war in Iraq is increasingly targeting Iran.

“Iranians are providing equipment that is killing Americans” in Iraq, said U.S. president George Bush in a January 14 interview on “60 Minutes,” the CBS television program. “As I said in my speech the other night,” he continued, referring to his January 10 nationally televised address announcing the deployment of more troops to Iraq, “we will interrupt supplies. We will find people that if they are, in fact, in Iraq killing Americans, they’ll be brought to justice.”

A central aspect of Washington’s preparations to confront Iran is its ominous naval buildup in the Arab-Persian Gulf. The January 14 New York Times devoted the back page of its Sunday “Week in Review” section to outline this point. An article by John Kifner, titled “Gunboat Diplomacy: The Watch on the Gulf,” accompanied a large map of the Arab-Persian Gulf area, showing in detail the deployment of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and other warships in the area.

The U S. Central Command (CENTCOM) supervises all of Washington’s military operations in the region, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“CentCom, as it is known, has always been run by a four-star general from the Army or Marines. So why name a sailor—Adm. William J. Fallon—as CentCom’s new commander, as President Bush did earlier this month?” Kifner asked. “One word: Iran,” he answered. “Admiral Fallon’s appointment comes amid a series of indications that the Bush administration is increasingly focused on putting pressure on Iran and, perhaps, veering toward open confrontation.”

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and related attack vessels entered the Gulf December 11. A second carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, and its escort ships have been rerouted to join the Eisenhower. U.S. carrier battle groups normally transport about 15,000 troops, including a Marine landing force of 2,200. The carriers can carry 85 aircraft each. Admiral Fallon, Kifner pointed out, is a career bomber pilot in the U.S. Navy.

In his January 10 speech, Bush charged the governments of Iran and Syria with fomenting sectarian violence in Iraq and warned that Washington will “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

Any such networks “are outside Iraq,” said ultrarightist politician Patrick Buchanan in a January 12 column. “Otherwise, they would have been neutralized by air strikes already.

“So where are they? Answer: inside Syria and Iran. And Bush says we are going to ‘seek out and destroy’ these networks.” This suggests, he said, that “Bush has in mind a different kind of escalation—widening the war by attacking the source of instability in the region: Tehran.”

Washington accuses Iran of manufacturing many of the most sophisticated roadside bombs employed in Iraq against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. The U.S. government also charges that several thousand Shiite militia members have been trained in Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

Interviewed on the NBC-TV “Today Show,” U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice refused to rule out U.S. military intervention in Iran or Syria. “The President is saying that we are going to make certain that we disrupt activities that are endangering and killing our troops and that are destabilizing Iraq,” she said.

“If that includes attacks inside Iran and Syria is that on the table?” asked host Matt Lauer.

“Matt, obviously the President is not going to take options off the table and I’m not going to speculate,” Rice replied.

“The U.S. and its allies have also sought to seal off Iran’s ability to penetrate Iraq and ship arms there, with British forces stepping up patrols along the Iran-Iraq border and U.S. warships and aircraft carriers increasing patrols in the Persian Gulf,” said an article in the January 12 Wall Street Journal. It added that U.S. forces have “intensified information-sharing with dissident Iranian groups such as Mujahedin-e Khalq,” and that the current measures aimed at Tehran have been in the works for six months.

The article said in its conclusion, “Under one possible scenario, U.S. forces could cross into Iran or Syria in pursuit of suspected insurgents or their allies, or use alleged Iranian activities inside Iraq as a pretext for a wider assault on Iran.”

The same day, U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates denied this is a plan. Targeting Iranian activities within Iraq, he said, “refers strictly to operations inside the territory of Iraq, not crossing the border.”

On January 12 Rice told the media that Bush issued a presidential order several months ago authorizing U.S. forces in Iraq to attack Iranians suspected of involvement in the fighting. The night of Bush’s nationwide address on Iraq, U.S. troops raided an Iranian office in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, and arrested five Iranians and confiscated files and computers. In December, GIs detained several Iranians at the office of a Shiite cleric in Baghdad.

The Times of London, meanwhile, reported January 7 that Tel Aviv is currently training two squadrons to strike Iran’s nuclear sites using nuclear “bunker-buster” bombs. “Air force squadrons based at Hatzerim in the Negev Desert and Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, have trained to use Israel’s tactical nuclear weapons on the mission,” the Times said. “The preparations have been overseen by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, commander of the Israeli air force.”

The Iranian sites to be targeted, according to the Times, are those in Arak, Natanz, and near Isfahan.

Washington and Tel Aviv charge that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at making atomic bombs, not for peaceful purposes. On December 23 the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran for failing to cease uranium enrichment, which is necessary to produce fuel for nuclear reactors slated to generate energy. Enriched at higher levels, uranium can also be used for nuclear arms. Tehran insists its program is aimed at providing needed energy for development.

In 1981, the Israeli Air Force bombed and destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
Related articles:
Bipartisan support firm for escalation of Iraq war
Conference in Iran questioning Holocaust promotes Jew-hatred
Young Socialists build January 27 antiwar march  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home