On August 27th, Alireza Tangsiri, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s navy chief announced that Iran has full control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as reported by Tasnim news Agency.
As cited by the Tasnim News Agency, the new commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy said there is no place for foreign forces, like the US navy, in the Persian Gulf, warning against the environmental problems that could be caused by the presence of foreign nuclear warships in the Persian Gulf. He also said that Iran was not hostile towards its Muslim neighbors and that it extends “the hand of fraternity” to them, in believing that the Persian Gulf is their home and that it does not require the presence of aliens such as the US.
Ayatollah Khamenei has, as early as 2016, underlined that the security of the Persian Gulf region is up to the region’s countries alone and dismissed any US claims of seeking security in the region. “The Persian Gulf security relates to the countries of the region which have common interests, and not to the US. So, security of the Persian Gulf region should be provided by the countries of this region itself,” the Leader said.
On August 23rd, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Rear Admiral Tangsiri as commander of the IRGC Navy. According to the Leader, the decision for the appointment has been made at the IRGC commander’s suggestion and with regard to the new commander’s “commitment, competency and valuable experiences.” Tangsiri succeeds Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi. Fadavi was praised by the Ayatollah for his sincere efforts in the office. In a separate decree by the Leader, Rear Admiral Fadavi was appointed as the IRGC deputy commander for coordination.
On July 31st, Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced that the Iranian Navy has ensured freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, but he emphasized that keeping the strait open threatens Iran’s interests. “The function of straits is heavily dependent on their being open; sanctions heavily affect the function,” he said, cited by Tasnim News Agency. “However, the Strait of Hormuz remaining open hinges on Iran’s interests and the international community should live up to its obligations towards the Islamic Republic,” the commander said.
Earlier in August 2018, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) held massive military drills in the Persian Gulf, which were seen as a clear show of force to the US. The IRGC also said they were ready to disrupt other countries’ oil shipments through the strait if Iran’s own exports were impeded.
Sputnik cited the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Top Adviser for International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati who said at the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow that if Iran was not permitted to export its oil via the strait, no other Middle Eastern state would be able to do so.
As reported by Tasnim News Agency, Ayatollah Khamenei has also called for the enhancement of the Iranian naval forces’ presence in international waters and expanding the Navy’s power in balance.
Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, thus cutting 20% of oil shipments in retaliation to US sanctions. The US sanctions which are to be imposed on Iran after the May 8th US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal have prompted Iran to protect its interests and have further strained the tension between Washington and Tehran.
On August 6th, the first batch of US sanctions was imposed. The second batch is to come in November and it targets Iran’s energy sector and oil exports. Therefore, prompting Iran to threaten to retaliate by blocking the Strait of Hormuz.
Tehran has several times in the past threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, however it has never brought any of the threats to fruition. As reported by Reuters, Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf which protects oil shipping routes.