Accompanied by 10 warships, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier on Wednesday, April 24, deployed opposite the Syrian coast in a dramatic show of strength against Russia and Iran. The effect was underlined by the revelation from US Navy sources of the presence on the carrier’s command bridge of none other than US ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman. His message needed no commentary: “When you have 200,000 tons of diplomacy cruising the Mediterranean, this is forward-operating diplomacy – nothing else need be said.”
There is no precedent even in the Cold War years between America and Soviet Russia of a US ambassador being planted on a front line against Russian and Iranian forces in the Middle East.
US severs Iran’s oil export lifeline
The US placed its Middle East forces on high alert on Monday, April 22, before announcing the cancellation of waivers that allowed 8 countries to buy embargoed Iranian oil.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an unprecedentedly tough statement. “We are going to zero across the board. We’ll continue to enforce sanctions and monitor compliance and any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution; the risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.” He went on to say: “How long we’ll remain there at zero depends solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders.”
The countries who will no longer benefit from the waivers are China, India, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy, Greece and Turkey. They collectively imported a million barrels a day of Iranian oil. Prior to sanctions, Iran was exporting 2.1 million barrels per day. That figure had already dropped to 700,000 barrels. Since oil is Iran’s single export commodity, its cutoff to zero is a virtual death blow to its economy.
US deploys two carrier strike groups in Mediterranean
The John C. Stennis and Abraham Lincoln carrier strike groups have joined the US Mediterranean 6th Fleet for the first time in more than two years. This level of concentrated strength is capable of countering any Iranian attempt to interfere with the oil tanker shipping plying routes to market from the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea.
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