The USS Harry S. Truman carrier, complete with its strike group of 60 warplanes and 6,000 seamen, has been ordered to turn course from the Persian Gulf and deploy with the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean for the time being, DEBKAfile’s military and Washington sources report.
The administration’s decision was prompted by incoming intelligence attesting to heightened marine and military tensions between Israel, Turkey and Iran, in the wake of the Turkish premier Recep Erdogan’s determination to give his screws on Israel another turn – or two.
He was solidly backed up from Tehran Wednesday, June 16, by parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who threatened military retaliation against Persian Gulf and Mediterranean shipping for any interference with the vessels Iran was sending to the Gaza Strip. He did not specify what kind they were.
In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted that Israel would no longer respect these vessels as promoted by aid agencies because they were obviously dispatched by outright enemies with hostile intent thinly disguised as humanitarian efforts.
Erdogan is planning more provocative sea convoys for Gaza and the severance of diplomatic relations. Ankara has set its face implacably toward a full rupture and is determined to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip by force, regardless of the relaxations on the siege restrictions ceded by Israel in consultation with Washington.
Israeli ministers met Wednesday, June 16, to approve these relaxations. The broke for lunch without a decision. Some ministers maintained Israel’s ambassador from Ankara should be recalled forthwith without waiting for the Erdogan government to break off ties. DEBKA