gulf-statesOn December 29, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has published a peace of news listing the airstrikes launched, on that day, against Islamic State (ISIL) positions and forces in Syria and Iraq. The text states that “[international] coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom”, while “coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates”. The same open source is stating that “fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 airstrikes in Syria and six in Iraq, officials said”. In Syria, one ISIL “tactical unit” has been destroyed; in Iraq, another “tactical unit” was destroyed, while “near Mosul, two airstrikes destroyed two ISIL buildings and struck a large ISIL unit”[1]

On December 26, 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has published a photo showing “U.S. sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett”, exactly when the sailors “ensure a fuel probe is secured during a replenishment-at-sea with the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 19, 2014”[2].

Three days earlier, on December 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has published a photo showing U.S. Marines “directing a fire team during a live-fire assault exercise with the Saudi marines as part of exercise Red Reef 15 in Ras Al Khair, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 16, 2014”. The U.S. Marines we are speaking about are “assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance detachment, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit”[3].

One day earlier, on December 22, 2014, the same official open source has published a photo showing “U.S. sailors” who “man a hose during a general quarters drill aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 19, 2014” [4], in an exercise most probably aimed at testing the ability of the crew to cope with open fire on the lower decks of the carrier.

The long-term meaning of some non-exceptional pieces of news

All these pieces of news are clearly showing quite intense combat missions of multi-national air forces against ISIL, plus some military exercises involving U.S. and Saudi elite forces (Marines), plus an exercise testing the ability of the crew to cope with a major fire on the lower decks of an U.S. aircraft carrier, plus an U.S. Navy combat ship replenishing its fuel stocks at sea, in the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf.

None of these four pieces of news is really extraordinary. But, put together, they indicate that, most probably, the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, plus the surrounding countries will go on being, in almost any future scenario we can imagine, a very volatile region, with a very high conflict potential. The entire region around the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf and the ongoing processes there are a major challenge for both the international security, and for the political will and national power of several important actors of the international arena, including the United States.

[1] “Airstrikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq”, News Article, DoD News, December 29, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=123891

[2] Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Coffer (U.S. Navy), “WORK AT SEA”, Lead Photo, DoD official webpage, December 26, 2014, text and photo available at the Internet address http://www.defense.gov/homepagephotos/leadphotoimage.aspx?id=99997

[3] Gunnery Sgt. Rome M. Lazarus (U.S. Marine Corps), “SHOUT IT OUT”, Lead Photo, DoD webpage, December 23, 2014, photo and text available at the Internet address http://www.defense.gov/homepagephotos/leadphotoimage.aspx?id=100002

[4] Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex King (U.S. Navy), “QUARTER DRILLS”, Lead Photo, DoD official webpage, December 22, 2014, text and photo available at the Internet address http://www.defense.gov/homepagephotos/leadphotoimage.aspx?id=99988

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