US warships have made a habit of wandering around in the Persian Gulf just off the coast of Iran, waiting for Iranian Naval ships to get sort of close, then complain in the international media how “unprofessional” that was. Today, the USS Mahan took it a step farther, firing a “warning flare” at the Iranian ship.
Officials didn’t identify the Iranian ship involved in this case, but did say it was 1,000 meters away from the USS Mahan, which isn’t hugely close. Officials say the Mahan repeatedly ordered the Iranian ship away from Iranian waters, and fired the flare afterward to “determine the vessel’s intentions.”
President Trump has long played up the idea of using such an incident to pick a fight with Iran, saying he thinks the US should just blow up any Iranian ship they decide has gotten too close. The Iranian Foreign Ministry was a little more realistic about what actually happened.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a statement confirming that the Iranian Navy operates within “the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico,” adding that he thinks the real question “is what US Navy is doing 7,500 miles from home.”
It’s unspoken, of course, but the US Navy is in the Persian Gulf specifically to threaten Iran, with ships deployed off the nation’s coast for years amid talks the US might attack Iran at some point.