Many of the somewhat wacky web sites are buzzing with the current state of the rising tensions between the Western Powers and Iran, alongside the implications of the outbreak of a pretty nasty shooting war between Russia and Georgia, some say precipitated by the US.
At the same time, the US and its allies have allegedly assembled in the Gulf the largest armada of US and allied Navy power seen for a long time, possibly since World War II.
There were reports on August 8th in the Kuwait Times that Kuwait has hurredly updated its emergency war plans in response to the US naval build up and the threat of war.
Govt finalizing war emergency plan
Published Date: August 07, 2008
KUWAIT: The government is finalizing its emergency plan this week in order to ensure that the country is protected from foreign dangers in case the regional situation escalates and a war breaks out between Iran and the USA.
An unnamed senior official revealed that the government has learnt that two aircraft carriers are scheduled to arrive in the Gulf and the Red Sea in preparation for the expected war at any time. The official said that this information led the government to accelerate its emergency plan preparations, which include arrangements for protecting all sectors and vital installations. ...
The list of 'platforms' the US and western allies has recently moved into the Middle East theatre is long and impressive. Here's the list as posted in the pretty 'out there' conspiracy blog of the rather wacky (and that's an understatement) Lord Stirling [thanks for the link Willie!]. The list includes the Somali pirate chasing USS Peleliu which I blogged earlier, presumeably they were on their way north.
The US Naval forces being assembled include the following:
Carrier Strike Group Nine
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) nuclear powered supercarrier
with its Carrier Air Wing Two
Destroyer Squadron Nine:
USS Mobile Bay (CG53) guided missile cruiser
USS Russell (DDG59) guided missile destroyer
USS Momsen (DDG92) guided missile destroyer
USS Shoup (DDG86) guided missile destroyer
USS Ford (FFG54) guided missile frigate
USS Ingraham (FFG61) guided missile frigate
USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG60) guided missile frigate
USS Curts (FFG38) guided missile frigate
Plus one or more nuclear hunter-killer submarines
Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group
USS Peleliu (LHA-5) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault carrier
USS Pearl Harbor (LSD52) assult ship
USS Dubuque (LPD8) assult ship/landing dock
USS Cape St. George (CG71) guided missile cruiser
USS Halsey (DDG97) guided missile destroyer
USS Benfold (DDG65) guided missile destroyer
Carrier Strike Group Two
USS Theodore Roosevelt (DVN71) nuclear powered supercarrier
with its Carrier Air Wing Eight
Destroyer Squadron 22
USS Monterey (CG61) guided missile cruiser
USS Mason (DDG87) guided missile destroyer
USS Nitze (DDG94) guided missile destroyer
USS Sullivans (DDG68) guided missile destroyer
USS Springfield (SSN761) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine
IWO ESG ~ Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group
USS Iwo Jima (LHD7) amphibious assault carrier
with its Amphibious Squadron Four
and with its 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit
USS San Antonio (LPD17) assault ship
USS Velia Gulf (CG72) guided missile cruiser
USS Ramage (DDG61) guided missile destroyer
USS Carter Hall (LSD50) assault ship
USS Roosevelt (DDG80) guided missile destroyer
USS Hartfore (SSN768) nuclear powered hunter-killer submarine
Carrier Strike Group Seven
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) nuclear powered supercarrier
with its Carrier Air Wing 14
Destroyer Squadron 7
USS Chancellorsville (CG62) guided missile cruiser
USS Howard (DDG83) guided missile destroyer
USS Gridley (DDG101) guided missile destroyer
USS Decatur (DDG73) guided missile destroyer
USS Thach (FFG43) guided missile frigate
USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7) fast combat support ship
Also likely to join the battle armada:
UK Royal Navy HMS Ark Royal Carrier Strike Group with assorted guided missile destroyers and frigates, nuclear hunter-killer submarines and support ships
French Navy nuclear powered hunter-killer submarines (likely the Amethyste and perhaps others), plus French Naval Rafale fighter jets operating off of the USS Theodore Roosevelt as the French Carrier Charles de Gaulle is in dry dock, and assorted surface warships
Various other US Navy warships and submarines and support ships. The following USN ships took part (as the "enemy" forces) in Operation Brimstone and several may join in:
USS San Jacinto (CG56) guided missile cruiser
USS Anzio (CG68) guided missile cruiser
USS Normandy (CG60) guided missile cruiser
USS Carney (DDG64) guided missile destroyer
USS Oscar Austin (DDG79) guided missile destroyer
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG81) guided missile destroyer
USS Carr (FFG52) guided missile frigate
A quick summary:
- Georgia has been ruled by a western leaning Government for some time, with a western sponsored oil pipeline from the Caspian running through it, and a history of a semi-independent province (South Ossetia) dominated by Russians since the days of the Soviet Union. It is alledged that there have been 1000 US Advisors in Georgia recently, and that the attack by Georgia on South Ossietia was deliberately timed to precipitate a Russian response. Rumors of Israeli arms shipments and military personel supporting Georgia can also be found.
- Iran continues to do what it wants on Uranium enrichment, and recent sanctions by Europe and the US imply a possible 'search of cargoes' headed to Iran. Any attempts by the west to effectively impose a naval blockade of Iranian imports (or exports), especially of refined petroleum products, would undoubtably be seen by Iran (and China) as an act of war. See also Debka on the blockade
- It would seem US forces are there in such quantity and quality to ensure that, not only can they enforce a (partial)blockade, but more importantly so they can respond in force to any attempt by Iran to shut the straights of Hormuz.
- The wild card remains whether the Israelis will act to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, and if so, will the US allow them to overfly Iraqi airspace (which they control)?
- Everyone knows that GW Bush has only a few months left. The timing of the November election may be something to watch, as no-one will want to be seen to influence the Presidential election. But once the election is over, Israel may feel free to act, and GW can claim to have no control.
Iran have also indicated that they would act against American interests in the Gulf (Qatar? Oman???) if there was any force applied by the US.
All in all, something to watch over the coming few weeks. Plus, I'm not planning a visit to Musandam soon....