The United States has dispatched the USS Enterprise to the Persian Gulf in an escalation of tensions with Iran. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the ship on Sunday and said the “carrier is all about” keeping the Strait of Hormuz open.
The move came after Iran’s foreign minister warned Arab neighbors on Thursday not to put themselves in a “dangerous position” by aligning themselves too closely with the United States.
“We want peace and tranquility in the region. But some of the countries in our region, they want to direct other countries 12,000 miles away from this region,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said while on a diplomatic mission to Turkey.
Iran issued the warning after Saudi Arabia said it would increase oil output following an embargo of Iranian oil.
The EU is set to agree on an oil embargo and freezing its bank assets. “We have proposed to strengthen these [sanctions] in two fields: an embargo on Iranian oil exports and a freeze on the assets of the Iranian central bank,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said last week.
“The American Congress has already made decisions in that direction, they were stamped by [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama, [and] we — the European Union — are working on them, and I think that on Monday, at the EU foreign ministers meeting, we will be able to come to an agreement on a sanctions package in these two areas,” Juppe said.
The neocon connected website DEBKAfile exploited the increased tension last week by claiming Iran’s al-Quds Brigade cells have been dispatched with a mission to attack Gulf oil installations and American targets. According to DEBKAfile, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey issued the warning and how the U.S. intends to respond to the “approaching menace.”
DEBKAfile said Iran used a visit by al-Quds commander Qassem Soleimani to Damascus as a cover to arrange purported al-Quds strikes in Turkey, Lebanon, Gaza and Sinai. He also dealt with setting up terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, DEBKAfile claimed on Thursday.
In December, it was reported that Iran had put al-Quds on a war footing. Iran activated plans to deploy long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.
In November, following another Israeli warning that it would attack Iran and take out its nuclear facilities, Iran warned it would respond to any attack. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told students at a Tehran military college the country “will respond with full force to any aggression or even threats in a way that will demolish the aggressors from within.”
Ali Khamenei emphasized that his message was directed at Iran’s enemies, “especially America and its stooges and the Zionist regime (in Israel).”