As the rest of the world enjoys Festivus or whatever celebration one indulges in, Iran is launching a "massive" 10 day war games naval exercise right in the belly of the beast. From Xinhua: "Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari on Thursday announced the upcoming launch of ten-day massive naval exercises in the international waters, the local satellite Press TV reported. Sayyari said at a press conference on Thursday that the naval maneuvers dubbed Velayat 90 will start on Saturday and will cover an area of 2,000 (1,250-mile) km stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, the report said. This is the first time that Iran's Navy carries out naval drills in such a vast area, he was quoted as saying. He said that the exercises will manifest Iran's military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries and test the newest military equipment among other objectives, said the report. He added that the newest missile systems and torpedoes will be employed in the maneuvers, adding that the most recent tactics used in subsurface battles will also be demonstrated. Iranian destroyers, missile-launching vessels, logistic vessels, drones and coastal missiles will also be tested, said the Iranian commander, according to the report." And while conventional wisdom is that the market is focused on what the upcoming closure of the Straits of Hormuz means for tanker routs and oil prices, there is another more disturbing possibility: with all those Iranian canoes, and soapboxes floating around, one wonders if one is bound to have a close encounter with USS CVN-74 John Stennis, which as the updated naval map below from Stratfor shows, will be smack in the middle of the action.
More on this potential powder keg:
Closing Strait of Hurmoz is under full control of Iran, he said but did not mention about the exercise to close it, according to the state IRIB TV website.
Earlier this month, Parviz Sorouri, a member of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that Iran plans to practice its ability to close the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most important passages for exports of crude and oil products from littoral states of Persian Gulf.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said later that closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran's agenda.
As Iran has announced it several times, the issue of closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran's agenda since Iran believes in upholding the stability and peace of the region," said Mehmanparast.
Alas, that's not the question: the question is what does everyone else believe is the best optics of representing Iran as believing in. Because if a US support vessel has to sink to make popular support for this and that a little more palatable, then sink it will. On its own if it has to.