The U.S. Navy again has accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing an American warship in the Persian Gulf, this time with a Revolutionary Guard vessel nearly causing a collision with the USS Firebolt. Why does this keep happening?


The U.S. Navy has had a regular presence in the Persian Gulf since the end of World War II. It ramped up its involvement in the region after Iran’s 1979 revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed shah and alarmed Washington’s Gulf Arab allies. The 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq brought even more American forces to the region. Today U.S. ships patrol the Gulf and its narrow Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes. Iran views the U.S. presence as a provocation.

The hard-liners who dominate Iran’s security forces were largely opposed to the landmark nuclear deal that President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, reached with the United States and other world powers last year. Police have arrested a number of dual citizens on security-related allegations since the deal was struck, and there has also been an uptick in provocative acts at sea. The U.S. Navy has recorded 31 instances of what it describes as “unsafe and/or unprofessional interactions” with Iranian forces this year alone, compared to 23 in all of 2015.

Source: Associated Press