Countering Iranian Maritime Aggression

Iran is becoming increasingly aggressive at sea. Its seizures of three international tankers and harassment of a fourth tanker in the last month mark at least the 40th episode of Iranian maritime aggression in two years— aggression that neither the United States nor its partners have responded to with credible deterrent efforts.

To be sure, protecting global commerce is a collective responsibility. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has pushed full steam ahead to build out military capabilities and partnerships to keep regional waters safe. Although greater capabilities are still needed—especially autonomous sensors that can quickly detect Iran’s preferred tactic of using fast attack craft the major challenges to responding to and deterring Iran’s maritime threat are now political. The United States must exhibit determination in using force to stop Iran’s illegal seizures of commercial tankers and leadership in encouraging international and regional partners to contribute more resources to existing multilateral maritime security mechanisms. Without it, America’s partners are unlikely to take on a greater share of regional security, as demonstrated by the withdrawal of United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) from participation in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

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Jonathan Ruhe – Director of Foreign Policy
Ari Cicurel – Assistant Director of Foreign Policy