debkafile: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ harassment of US warships in Strait of Hormuz carried 5 tough messages for Bush

debkafile‘s military and Iranian sources stress that the near-shooting incident Sunday, Jan. 6, in which 5 IRGC speedboats made threatening passes against three US Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, was timed precisely by Tehran for the eve of President George W. Bush’s Middle East tour.
1. It was an “in your face” gesture by the IRGC to show the US president they were not scared by being declared a global terrorist organization, a step Bush took last year.
The elite Iranian corps was also intent on proving that Iran was the boss of the Strait of Hormuz, the crude oil outlet for Persian Gulf producers – not the US Navy.
2. A reminder that Iran is able to block the strait at will and throw the world’s oil traffic in disarray.
3. It is important for the Islamic Republic to show its neighbors on the US president’s itinerary that Iran is the region’s leading power, not the US, and that no deals or issues can be finalized without Tehran’s say-so.
4. The Iranian speedboats were also a warning to the nations hosting Bush not to risk signing any military pacts that may be directed against Iran.
5. Tehran has been all ears to pick up every nuance from the White House ahead of the Bush tour. In an interview aired by Israeli television Sunday, Bush said that Iran “was a threat and is a threat” and the US has never given up its military option.
Israeli officials have also leaked a plan to show the visiting president intelligence data to refute the US National Intelligence Estimate’s claim that Iran gave up its nuclear arms program in 2003.
Over the weekend, supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s senior adviser Ali Larijani went from Cairo to Damascus to discuss the Lebanese crisis. This was meant as a signal to Washington that the problem was susceptible to diplomatic engagement. But when the Iranians heard the Bush interview, they decided to show muscle instead and launched the naval incident in the Strait of Hormuz.
6. While possibly a coincidence, the naval provocation occurred at the same time as al Qaeda’s American spokesman called on the region’s Muslim to greet the visiting US president with bombs. The two events have combined to add fuel to the climate in the region preparing to welcome President Bush.

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