WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is not aiming to set up a military coalition against Iran with its new security initiative in the Gulf, but simply “shining a flashlight” in the region to deter attacks on commercial ships, a top Pentagon official told Reuters.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, who briefed NATO allies this week on the U.S. proposal, said it was less operational and more geared toward increasing surveillance capabilities.
Coalition - Iran - Iran - Construct - Wheelbarger
“This is not a coalition against Iran … If you were militarily confronting Iran, this is not the construct that you would use,” said Wheelbarger, one of the most senior policy officials at the Pentagon.
“The goal is to increase maritime domain awareness and surveillance capabilities in the region to dissuade malign action,” she said, offering the most detailed assessment to date of the progress of the plans and discussions with allies.
Flashlight - Something - People
“Just shining a flashlight on something – that’s all we’re asking people to do, quite frankly.”
Washington first proposed some sort of multinational effort open to all allies and partners to bolster maritime security in the Gulf in June after accusing Iran of attacking oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, a critical maritime chokepoint between the Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
Tehran - Charges
Tehran denies the charges.
The proposal was met with concern in some European capitals, already at odds with Washington over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Some critics worry the move would ramp up military tensions instead of discouraging attacks.
Iran - Conflict - United - States - Month
Iran came close to conflict with the United States last month after the Islamic Republic’s unprecedented shoot-down of a U.S. drone with a surface-to-air missile nearly triggered retaliatory strikes by Trump.
Wheelbarger stressed that the new initiative was “not about military confrontation,” however.
Plan - July - United - States - Ships
Under a plan detailed on July 9, the United States would provide coordinating ships and lead surveillance...
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