14:44 GMT +315 October 2019
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    A boat of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard sails next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port, July 21, 2019.

    Iranian Navy Chief to US Mideast ‘Looters’: Leave Now or Face ‘Humiliating Withdrawal’

    © REUTERS / Iran, ISNA/WANA
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    Earlier, a senior Iranian army commander alleged that US warships had been “pushed to stop” 200 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, and had begun withdrawing from the region “due to the [Iranian] Armed Forces’ deterrence power.” The US military did not comment on the claim.

    Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi has called on Iran’s US, British and Israeli “enemies” to leave the Persian Gulf region immediately or face “humiliation.”

    “Enemies of the region should know that the era of plundering the region’s wealth is over. The looters should thus leave the region as soon as possible, otherwise a humiliating withdrawal awaits them,” Khanzadi said, his remarks quoted by Press TV.

    “The era of hypocritical stunts and roaming freely around in the Persian Gulf is over,” the commander added, warning that “the US, Britain and the Zionist regime must know that a naval Islamic resistance front is in the making.”

    Khanzadi also stressed that foreign powers operating in the Gulf were wasting resources and risking the lives of their servicemen by deploying them thousands of kilometers from their home shores.

    The rear admiral accused “some arrogant powers” of “failing” to realise the importance of “friendship, cooperation, solidarity and a collective understanding of the maritime environment,” which he said were crucial for maintaining “collective peace and security” in the region.

    In this Sunday, July 21, 2019 photo, an aerial view shows a speedboat of Iran's Revolutionary Guard moving around the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas
    © AP Photo / Tasnim News Agency / Morteza Akhoondi
    In this Sunday, July 21, 2019 photo, an aerial view shows a speedboat of Iran's Revolutionary Guard moving around the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas

    Iranian officials have been speaking with their counterparts from other regional countries on the prospects of creating a regional Gulf security coalition. Last week, Iranian Defence Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami spoke to the defence ministers of Qatar, Oman and Kuwait on ways to ensure the security of the Gulf, and warned that a US-led military coalition, particularly with Israeli participation, would only “increase insecurity in the region.”

    Earlier, senior Iranian officials including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif similarly warned the US and its allies against a Gulf ‘maritime security coalition’, saying Iran was perfectly capable of ensuring security in the region.

    The US invited multiple allies, including the UK, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Belgium and Norway, among others, to join its maritime coalition in the Gulf in late June, but so far only London has responded positively to the idea. According to Israeli media, Tel Aviv has also expressed a commitment to the US-led coalition, known as ‘Operation Sentinel’, with Foreign Minister Israel Katz reportedly saying his country would provide intelligence support and assistance in “unspecified fields.” Iran rejected the idea outright, warning that an Israeli military presence in the region would pose a “clear threat” to Iranian national security.

    F/A-18 fighter jets fly over the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, Monday, June 3, 2019
    © REUTERS / Jon Gambrell
    F/A-18 fighter jets fly over the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, Monday, June 3, 2019

    The US began talks about the formation of a maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf after multiple attacks on commercial oil tankers in mid-May and mid-June, which Washington blamed on Iran. Tehran denied the claims, and accused the US and its allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, of trying to stoke tensions. The UK announced plans to create its own coalition in late July after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker it claimed was operating dangerously in the Strait of Hormuz, but has since promised to join the US-led operation instead. Apart from Israel and the UK, no other US allies have publicly expressed a commitment to the coalition idea. Last month, a senior US Navy admiral said the Pentagon expects US allies to do “80 or 90 percent” of the work in Operation Sentinel, with the US to provide mostly intelligence support.

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