Iran to hold naval war drills with Russia, China in latest sign of growing ties

The growing closeness between the top three Western adversaries comes at a point when American strength in the region seems to be waning.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran, Russia and China will hold a second set of joint maritime drills in the coming months in the Persian Gulf, the Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported Monday.

Russian ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan told the agency that the purpose of the drills will be to “practice actions to ensure the safety of international shipping and the fight against sea pirates.”

Dzhagaryan added that he expects the three-way exercise to become an annual event.

The growing closeness between the top three Western adversaries comes at a point when American strength in the region seems to be waning. The most recent signals to that effect are the American intelligence failure to predict the Taliban’s lightning sweep to take over Afghanistan this month, combined with the ongoing chaotic U.S. withdrawal from the country.

Last week, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told both his Chinese and Russian counterparts that his country was ready to work together with them in “establishing security and peace in Afghanistan.”

This will be the second time these navies practice together in the area. In December 2019 they conducted a four-day military exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. Then, too, among the objectives announced by an Iranian rear admiral was “improving the security of international maritime trade [and] countering maritime piracy and terrorism.”

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This was followed by land troops from Iran and China joining a large, multi-national military exercise held in Russia last September that focused on battlefield tactics, control and command.

Iran then held a separate, three-day “Maritime Security Belt 2021” drill with Russia this past February in the Indian Ocean, with the participation of the Indian navy.

The Gulf of Oman is the only entrance into the Persian Gulf, connecting to it through the Strait of Hormuz. It is the primary route for oil and liquid natural gas shipments from the Arab oil-producing countries to the rest of the world, and the security of its waters is of prime international concern.

The Iranian coastline runs along the northern edge of both gulfs and the mullahcracy considers the strategic waterway its backyard and a target for dominance. Its naval vessels have intermittently played dangerous games with American warships in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Republic has also been blamed for several recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, including one last month on an Israeli-linked vessel in which a UAV strike left two sailors, one Romanian and one British, dead.