US, British, French Warships Transit Hormuz Strait To Deter Iran From Seizing Tankers
While the world's attention and international headlines have been focused on news out of Bakhmut over the weekend, there has been a build-up of unusual Western military activity just off Iran's coast as tensions between Western allies and the Islamic Republic are on the rise.
The US, British, and French navies launched an unusual show of force aimed at Tehran, transiting the narrow Strait of Hormuz in joint movements.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM), which is in charge of the Middle East region, in a statement indicated, "The U.S. 5th Fleet commander transited the Strait of Hormuz aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) with naval counterparts from France and the United Kingdom, May 19."
This stepped-up show of strength comes on the heels of Iran's recent seizure of two foreign oil tankers. The White House vowed to increase its presence in the Persian Gulf region to prevent such Iranian aggression.
Iran, for its part, has blamed Washington for seizing its own oil exports, for example citing an April US intercept of crude bound for China, casting its actions as a necessary tit-for-tat.
As we wrote last month, all of this means that the "tanker wars" are back, and the situation remains unpredictable, given the US is unlikely to stop its counter-Iran sanctions enforcement.
But Tehran's military has made it clear that for each Iranian tanker intercept by the US or its allies, the West can expect more international tankers to be boarded by elite Iranian commandos.
Iran meanwhile has been growing closer in military and trade ties with both China and Russia, having even recently conducted naval drills with both strong powers.