- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2022

Iran said Friday it has kicked off annual military drills Friday in the critical Strait of Hormuz even as Tehran continues its crackdown on anti-government protests that have spread throughout the country.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important chokepoint for the world’s oil supply, with more than 15 million barrels passing through the strait every day. The U.S. Navy routinely patrols the strait to ensure the free flow of maritime traffic, leading to multiple tense clashes over the years with Iranian vessels. 

Ground, naval and air forces will take part in the joint maneuvers, dubbed “Zolfaqar-1401” to show “self-confidence, power, and sustainable security,” Iranian officials said.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at the U.S., Tehran said the exercises are intended to remind nearby countries that peace is possible “only through regional capacities and unity.”

“The commander stressed that the exit of ‘extra-regional countries,’ including the U.S. and the U.K., from the region will ensure stability,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. “History has proved that the ultra-regional players are after war and insecurity.”

The U.S. has imposed a number of restrictions on Iran since the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Most recently, the Biden administration last week slapped sanctions on several Iranian officials who have been accused of human rights violations linked to the government’s handling of the protests. 

Tehran says the “Zolfaqar-1401” maneuvers are also intended to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the current arms embargo against Iran.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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