Iran took a “step back to recalculate” an apparent attack against US forces in the region after America bolstered its deterrent in the Arabian Gulf, according to the US’ top military commander for operations in the Middle East.
General Frank McKenzie of Central Command (CENTCOM) told reporters from the Associated Press that the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, four B-52 bombers and additional air-defense systems had prompted Tehran to reconsider its “aggression”.
“It is my assessment that this has caused the Iranians to back up a little bit, but I’m not sure they are strategically backing down,” McKenzie later told reporters at a press conference in Baghdad.
When questioned on his strategy, the general said the US is “establish[ing] deterrence” but walking a “fine line” to avoid unnecessarily provoking the Islamic Republic into full-scale war.
“We’ve taken steps to show the Iranians that we mean business in our ability to defend ourselves,” he said.
McKenzie added he believes that the military threat from Tehran is still “very real” and that it had not “diminished”.
He would not rule out the prospect of providing further military support to combat Iranian aggression.
Tensions between the US and America have escalated in the past month, a year after the United States pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programmein return for lifting sanctions.
These economic sanctions have fuelled the prospect of military confrontation between the two countries.
In May this year, two Saudi oil tankers were “sabotaged” off the coast of Fujairah, one of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Yesterday, the UAE reported that those responsible were most likely a “state actor” due to the complexity of the attacks but failed to name any countries.
When asked who was responsible, US National Security Advisor John Bolton, told reporters “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” without providing evidence to support his accusation.
The New York Times also reported in May that one of the supposed threats were photographic images of Iranian ships in the Arabian Gulf loaded with ballistic missiles.
Their anonymous sources also disclosed that that Iranian proxy Iraqi Shia militias were preparing to attack US army personnel in Iraq.
“This is all fake intelligence,” Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi told CNN.
“This intelligence is based on certain narrow-minded agendas pursued by certain people in Washington, as well as in our own region.”
Both sides have made repeated remarks in recent weeks about possible talks to resolve their differences while saying that the other side must act first.