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Iran Conducts Annual War Drill To Thwart “Foreign Threats And Possible Invasion”

Adding to the regional instabilities in the Gulf of Oman, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway, the Iranian military launched its annual three-day naval exercise on Thursday.

Iranian commander Admiral Habibollah Sardari, who is leading the drills, told Iranian state TV that the exercise would allow the military to thwart future “foreign threats and any possible invasion.”

Reuters notes the exercise is being conducted in the eastern side of the strait in the Gulf of Oman, a hot spot that was the site of last year’s tanker attacks.

The annual exercise, dubbed as Zolfaghar-99, will include naval, air, and ground forces. The drill will also include warships, submarines, fighter jets, and unmanned aerial systems.

The location of the exercise is situated near the world’s most important oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, which has large volumes of oil that flow through the strait via tankers, accounting for about 30% of all the world’s oil traded in a given year.

Tensions have risen between Tehran and Washington this summer, mostly after Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard blew up a replica aircraft carrier in the strait.

Then in August, the Iranian Navy briefly boarded a Liberian-flagged oil tanker. The area has also seen a rise in Iran threatening oil tankers and US warships.

Ahead of the war drill, we noted last week how Iran’s state-controlled Afkar News saying that “American Soil Is Now Within the Range of Iranian Bombs.” The report bragged about the damage that the Iranian military could inflict on the Western powers:

“By sending a military satellite into space, Iran now has shown that it can target all American territory; the Iranian parliament had previously warned [the US] that an electromagnetic nuclear attack on the United States would likely kill 90 percent of Americans.”

With Iran increasingly flouting its military strength ahead of the election, tensions between Tehran and Washington will continue to rise.

Russia Conducts War Drill With Hypersonic Missiles Amid Threat Of War In Middle East

Russia Conducts War Drill With Hypersonic Missiles Amid Threat Of War In Middle East

Russian President Vladimir Putin observed a war drill off the coast of Crimea on Thursday that included the launching of hypersonic missiles, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The ministry’s Zvezda broadcasting service said Russia’s Black Sea and Northern Fleets participated in the military exercise.

Various missiles were fired during the drill, including Kalibr cruise missiles and Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missiles.

More than 30 warships, including the Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Makarov frigate, one submarine, and more than 40 aircraft, including Tu-95MS strategic bombers, Su-30SM fighters, and Su-24M bombers, participated in the drill.  

Two MIG-31K fighters air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles while guided missile destroyers launched Kalibr cruise missiles at targets.

Putin observed much of the exercise aboard the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser.

“The drills have been held successfully,” Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, told Putin on Thursday. 

The drill comes as the US and Iran were on the verge of war earlier this week. Tensions have simmered down but are still elevated after Iran launched missiles at two US bases in Iraq.

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Russia is a military ally of Iran, both countries have conducted military operations in Syria, and in recent times, held maritime war drills.

Washington’s relations with Russia and Iran have deteriorated since the beginning of the Syrian civil war and even more since President Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Russia’s latest military exercise and escalating tensions in the Middle East are certainly indicating that the world is inching closer to conflict.

US Plans “Significantly More” South China Sea War-Drills To Counter China’s “New Reality”

After an exciting weekend of comments from U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chinese People’s Liberation Army Lieutenant General He Lei at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a civilian and military defense summit in Singapore, it appears the United States had to have the last word.

On Sunday, two U.S. officials told Reuters that the Pentagon is considering increased naval war drills in the South China Sea near China’s heavily disputed militarized islands. The officials, who are working jointly with Asian diplomats — declined to comment about the Pentagon’s progress in finalizing the plan for the new drills.

Such a move could further increase geopolitical tensions in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

Officials explained to Reuters that the naval drills could involve more extensive patrols, ones involving a large number of warships or operations including closer surveillance of the Chinese military bases on the islands, which now includes anti-ship cruise missiles, radar-jamming equipment, and strategic bombers.

U.S. officials said they are not doing this alone. They are aligning international allies and strategic partners to increase “naval deployments through the vital trade route as China strengthens its military capabilities on both the Paracel and Spratly islands.”

“What we have seen in the last few weeks is just the start, significantly more is being planned,” said one Western diplomat, referring to a freedom of navigation patrol late last month that used two U.S. ships for the first time.

“There is a real sense more needs to be done.”

While the Pentagon does not directly comment on future classified operations, there is a reason to believe that more naval drills are set to intensify in the second half of 2018.

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