President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Thursday morning that he has “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
The order came after recent Iranian aggression against U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S Navy’s 5th fleet reported that six Navy warships were conducting drills with U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters in international waters off the Iranian coast last Wednesday when they were repeatedly harassed by 11 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy ships. The 5th Fleet added that the Iranian ships repeatedly crisscrossed the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, coming within ten yards at one point.
— U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) April 15, 2020
The Navy statement said that Iran’s dangerous and provocative actions “increased the risk of miscalculation and collision” and that they violated international maritime “rules of the road.”
Furthermore, on April 1, President Trump revealed on Twitter that he received information that Iran was “planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq.”
The Iranian regime has been hostile towards the U.S. since the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970’s.
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U.S. House Votes to Permanently Freeze $6 Billion Iranian Funds Amid Hostage Exchange Controversy
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to permanently freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds that were initially slated for release by the Biden administration as part of a hostage exchange with Tehran earlier this year. The measure passed in a 307-119 vote, with the majority of Republicans supporting it, according to The Hill. Notably, Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie was the sole Republican dissenting voice, aligning with 118 Democrats.
The frozen funds, originally held in South Korea, were part of a deal where Seoul committed to paying Iran for oil before the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2019. Subsequently, these funds were transferred to Qatar as part of the exchange. However, in the aftermath of an Oct. 7 Hamas raid on Israel, where more than 200 hostages were seized and around 1,200 civilians were killed, both Qatar and the U.S. agreed to refreeze the funds.
The decision to permanently freeze the funds reflects the growing controversy surrounding the hostage exchange and the broader implications of releasing substantial financial resources to Iran. Tehran’s support for Hamas and its proxies’ heightened hostilities in the Middle East have contributed to the contentious nature of this issue.
As the legislation progresses, it further underscores the complex dynamics in the region and the United States’ response to Iran’s involvement in activities that destabilize the Middle East. The vote outcome signals a bipartisan stance on this matter, with implications for U.S.-Iran relations and the ongoing challenges of navigating geopolitical complexities.
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