UAE-based Khaleej Times daily has cited a US Central Command (CENTCOM) officer, identified as Major Josh Jacques as saying that the US partners with “many nations to provide and promote security and stability in the region.” The report, however, doesn’t directly refer to the Persian Gulf region.
“Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” Jacques allegedly added.
The announcement comes on the heels of threats from Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, thus cutting off the main oil shipping route in response to any hostile action from the US.
In a parallel development, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammed Bagheri said on Wednesday that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was ready to defend the strategic waterway if any country breaks international laws.
"The IRGC Navy's preparedness and capabilities unsettle the aggressors before entering the Strait of Hormuz, and [this is why] they have adhered to international laws over the past year. And, should they overstep that, they will face the IRGC Navy's response and restraining measures. […] Thanks to the Revolutionary Guards' Navy, hostile countries are worried before crossing the Strait of Hormuz," local media cited Bagheri as saying.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed IRGC navy commander, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, said last week that Tehran maintains full control over the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.
"In the Persian Gulf, the IRGC Navy and in the Sea of Oman, the naval forces of the Army are prepared to defend the waters with their intelligence dominance and monitoring of the enemy's physical presence. The enemy is using the ploy of [alleged Iranian threat] to have a presence in the region and sell arms. Their presence in the region is detrimental to security and does not bring about any security," he said.
Currently, the US 5th Fleet is deployed in the Persian Gulf with carriers, ships, strike aircraft, sailors and marines.
Following Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the US has been ramping up pressure on the Islamic Republic, threatening to impose tougher sanctions to drive Iranian exports down to zero.