Following a brief financial panic on false rumors of Iran seizing a US-flagged cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon has announced it will begin accompanying all US-flagged commercial ships traversing the narrow strait.
Officials say this will protect the ships, even though the rumors from earlier this week were false, and the seized ship was actually a Marshall Islands-flagged ship taken because of a court order over a debt by the owners.
Pentagon officials say these won’t be formal escorting operations, but rather that they’ll simply accompany the ships and monitor the area, which is apparently a significant distinction in military terms.
On the one hand, this new pledge seems designed to tamp down panic after the rumors, though in the long run it also puts more US warships on the cusp of Iranian national waters and threatens to ratchet up tensions.
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