US May Include Israel and Gulf State Allies in Its New Drone-based Task Force, Iranian Media Says
19:03 GMT 11.09.2021 (Updated: 19:18 GMT 11.09.2021)
On Wednesday, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet unveiled plans to create a new task force headquartered in Bahrain. The force expected to be equipped with the latest US airborne, waterborne and underwater military drone technology.
The US military may use its new Persian Gulf task force to create a joint naval unit containing military forces from its Gulf allies, as well as Israel, and use these forces to carry out proxy missions to destabilize the region, Iran’s semi-official Nour News Agency suspects.
“These measures are in line with the launch of a joint maritime unit between the Gulf Arab countries and the Zionist regime,” Nour indicated, citing US national security strategy and its calls for expanding Washington’s presence in East Asia and the South and East China Sea, at the expense of resources in West Asia.
“In this context, Washington will hand over part of the mission of its military forces in West Asia to the Arab countries in the region and the Zionist entity, so that the vacuum of its direct presence in West Asia and the Persian Gulf will be felt less sharply,” the outlet, which Western media suspect may have links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, or to the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council, added.
Nour fears that “the new strategy, which lays the ground for the pursuit of a new national security doctrine,” has already begun to be implemented via the creation of “artificial tensions in the region based on a pre-designed scenario,” a reference to the July allegations by Israel and its Western allies blaming Iran for a deadly drone attack on an Israeli-managed oil tanker off the coast of Oman. Tehran vocally denied claims of involvement in the attack, and accused Tel Aviv and its partners of planning “false flag” operations designed to escalate tensions and justify aggression against Iran.
In its announcement on the creation of a new Mideast-based task force, formally known as ‘Task Force 59’, on Wednesday, officials from the US’s 5th Fleet did not mention whether any foreign allies would be involved in the new force. 5thFleet commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper told media that the US wants “to put more systems out there in the maritime domain above, on and below the sea,” and have “more eyes on what’s happening out there.”
Cooper did not specify what specific drone systems may be used by the new force, but AP has speculated that the unmanned vehicles may include long-range and long-endurance aerial spy drones, unmanned surface vessels like the Sea Hawk and Sea Hunter, and torpedo-shaped underwater drones.
Iran has some experience with US unmanned systems operating in the Persian Gulf. In 2019, the Revolutionary Guards shot down a $220 million US surveillance drone operating over Iranian airspace in the Persian Gulf. The incident brought the two nations to the brink of war.
Cooper didn't clarify the new drone-based task force’s expected interactions with the Iranian military, saying the Navy was “very aware of Iran’s posture” and will “be prepared to deal with that appropriately.” The commander did not elaborate.
The 5th Fleet is formally tasked with ‘guarding’ the approach to the Strait of Hormuz, through which some 20 percent of the world’s crude oil passes. Iran has repeatedly stressed that it and other Gulf nations can come to an agreement to secure the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz independently, without the interference of ‘outside powers’ like the US and Israel. In 2019, then-Iranian President Hassan Rouhani proposed the so-called ‘Hormuz Peace Initiative at the 74th United Nations General Assembly, and invited countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia, with which Iran has had historically tense relations, to join.