Bab al-Mandab, Yemen
6 August 2023

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command announced that “more than 3,000 U.S. Sailors and Marines of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in the Middle East… as part of a pre-announced Department of Defense deployment”, highlighting that the additional forces “bring to the region additional aviation and naval assets, as well as more U.S. Marines and Sailors, providing greater flexibility and maritime capability to U.S. 5th Fleet”. The following day, Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson asserted that “ensuring the security of waterways and safe shipping in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman is one of Iran’s priorities and an issue that should be carried out in the framework of joint cooperation between the coastal countries… without any foreign intervention and extra-regional forces”. The same day, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei contended that the U.S. was “attacking oil tankers and helping maritime smuggling gangs in our region and other regions”, while an IRGC spokesperson emphasised Iran’s power to “respond in kind to any U.S. action and mischief [in the region], including the seizure of ships”.

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