Security Brief: Bolton’s Warning to Iran
The White House announced late Sunday that it would send the USS Abraham Lincolnaircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East as “a clear and unmistakable message” to Iran. Deploying these forces to the region is not new or unusual. But the language in the statement, from John Bolton, the national security adviser, is provocative.
The move is “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” and is intended to send a message that “any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Bolton said.
Is this just more saber rattling by President Donald Trump’s most outspoken Iran hawk? Possibly. The Abraham Lincoln’s movement is not a surprise: the ship departed the East Coast on April 1 for a regularly scheduled deployment that would take it around the globe, and has recently been operating close by in the Mediterranean Sea.
The bomber deployment, too, is not unexpected. The U.S. Air Force regularly rotates bombers in and out of the Middle East. B-1s from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas returned home in March, about two weeks before U.S.-backed fighters declared victory over the Islamic State militant group.
Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when asked by reporters about Bolton’s statement, admitted: “It’s something we’ve been working on for a little while.”
Yet the move is the latest in a series of escalations by the U.S. and Iran. Last month, the Trump administration designated the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. Then on Tuesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani declared all American troops in the Middle East terrorists. And on Thursday, the administration allowed oil purchase waivers for Iran to expire, an effort to cut off revenue from Tehran’s oil exports.
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