On Nov. 1, Iranian fighter jets fired towards a U.S. Air Force Predator drone over the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The drone was not hit and returned to its base. According to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, “The drone was flying near Kharg Island and our understanding is that … it was gathering economic information and intelligence on Kharg Island and oil tankers.”
According to the Pentagon, the drone was flying in international airspace “east of Kuwait” performing “routine maritime surveillance.” U.S. Press Secretary George Little stated that the U.S. drone was about 26 kilometers (16 miles) off the Iranian coast.
The geography of the western-most part of the Persian/Arabian Gulf, where the incident occurred, makes it unlikely for the target of the drone’s surveillance to have been anything other than Iran. There are only two other countries in the region, Kuwait and Iraq. Kuwait is a U.S. client state that houses several U.S. bases. Iraq was under U.S. occupation for over eight years. The United States has no reason to gather intelligence on either Kuwait or Iraq—there is little about Kuwaiti and Iraqi facilities that the U.S. military does not already know.
Spying on Iran seems a more plausible purpose for the drone’s mission than surveying the seas. Why would the U.S. Air Force need a radar-evading drone to do “routine maritime surveillance”? And what is “routine” about the U.S. Air Force performing “surveillance” off the coast of Iran? It is not hard to imagine how the U.S. military would have reacted if an Iranian drone was performing “routine maritime surveillance” 16 miles off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
In accordance with international law, Iranian nautical sovereignty extends 12 miles out from its coastline. So the Pentagon’s own report indicates that the drone came within four miles of Iranian airspace, unquestionably an aggressive maneuver.
In December 2011, Iran brought down a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone in eastern Iran. The United States’ claim was that the drone had malfunctioned and lost its coordinates. There have been several reports of U.S. drones flying spy missions into Iran’s airspace.
Whatever the specific coordinates of the Predator drone’s location, the fact that the United States continues to fly aircraft in or near Iranian airspace is another indication of the aggressive U.S. approach towards Iran. As the United States and its allies suffocate Iran through sanctions that have already caused severe hardship for working-class Iranians, threatening U.S. statements and military maneuvers continue.
The sanctions, the threats, the drone flyovers and the U.S. military deployment in the Gulf region are all parts of the U.S. regime-change strategy. As an independent state that does not take its orders from Washington, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a threat to global domination of U.S. oil companies and mega corporations.