Ayatollah to US: Conduct Your Military Exercises in Bay of Pigs, Not ‘Our’ Persian Gulf

By Patrick Goodenough | May 3, 2016 | 4:29am EDT
During the 2016 international mine countermeasures exercise, navies from the U.S. and more than 30 other countries trained together in the Persian Gulf and beyond. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn)

(CNSNews.com) – The United States military should get out of the Persian Gulf, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday, suggesting the U.S. forces go to the “Bay of Pigs” instead to conduct its military exercises.

Apparently responding to a recently introduced House of Representatives resolution critical of Iranian military activities in the Persian Gulf, Khamenei during a speech to teachers called the stance taken by Iran’s “enemies” foolish and worthless.

“The Persian Gulf is our home,” he said. “The Persian Gulf is the place for the presence of the great nation of Iran,” which will continue to hold maneuvers and demonstrate its power there.

“It is the Americans who must explain why they have come here from the other side of the world to launch war games,” Khamenei said,

“They come here from the other side of the world to perform a military exercise? Well, look the other way, towards the Bay of Pigs,” he continued.

In case the significance of the reference was not clear, an official Khamenei website explained what it called the ayatollah’s “taunting” of the U.S.

“The reference made by the commander-in-chief about the Bay of Pigs is ironic,” said an article posted on the site. “It indicates U.S. military weakness that stems from their failed operation in the ‘Bay of Pigs’ in Cuba,” it said, adding brief details of the location of the abortive U.S.-backed exile invasion of the communist-ruled country in 1961.

Khamenei ended that section of his speech by saying that the fact Iran is growing stronger by the day and “standing tall” demonstrates the failures of its enemies.

“[T] Qur’an has taught us that we must prepare ourselves so as to strike permanent fear into the heart of enemy,” he added. (The reference is apparently to sura 3:15, which states “We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.”)

The Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most sensitive maritime chokepoints, with up to 40 percent of the world’s daily oil supply traversing the channel en route to markets in Asia and the West.

Located between Iran, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, it is less than 30 miles across at its narrowest point. Iranian officials over the years have periodically threatened to block it.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet is headquartered in nearby Bahrain, and regularly holds and hosts military exercises in the crucial waterway and surrounding region. The most recent international mine countermeasures exercise, involving forces from more than 30 nations training to respond to threats including terrorism, piracy and mines, ended last week.

Iran also frequently conducts military maneuvers in the Gulf. Last week, Iranian Navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that the next “massive” Velayat annual war games would include submarine and missile drills.

During the last Velayat exercises early this year, Iran claimed to have “shooed away” a U.S. warship that ventured too close to its vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. The Fifth Fleet denied that any U.S. ships changed course as a result of Iranian warnings.

Iran also reported that a drone and submarine had recorded surveillance images of a U.S. carrier during the wargames.

Earlier, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy personnel in the northern Gulf detained 10 U.S. Navy sailors and two small patrol vessels for around 14 hours, in an incident that drew strong condemnation in the U.S.

Last Thursday, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) introduced a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that Iran has undermined stability in the “Arabian Gulf,” raised the danger of inadvertent escalation, and increased the risk to U.S. military personnel abroad.

Citing the sailors’ detention and instances of Iranian warplanes flying in close proximity to U.S. Navy vessels, the measure calls on Iran’s military forces to act in line with international law.

It further urges the administration to respond firmly “to past and future instances of dangerous and unprofessional behavior by Iranian forces,” and pledges to consider Iran’s behavior when considering Iran sanctions and other legislation.

In a speech Sunday, a senior IRGC Navy commander, Gen. Ali Razmjou, told IRGC officers and troops that foreign forces “don’t play any role in establishing security in the Persian Gulf and they are not helpful to regional stability.”

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