Yesterday’s little “incident” where Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three US Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz was an “in your face F-YOU” to America and President Bush. Mideast Oil exports travel through the Strait, and Iran has been saying for a long time, that they can turn of the Oil by closing the Strait anytime they want (see Iran Threatens Strait of Hormuz)

Think of the incident yesterday as a little “welcome card” to President Bush as he arrives in the Mideast this week.

Iranian boats harass US Navy ships in Strait of Hormuz

Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three US Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, threatening to blow up the American vessels, US officials said Monday. They described it as a serious provocation.

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US forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats turned and moved away, a Defense Department official said. “It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we’ve seen yet,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: “We urge the Iranians to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future.”

The incident occurred at about 5 a.m. local time Sunday as a US Navy cruiser, destroyer and frigate were on their way into the Gulf and passing through the strait – a major oil shipping route.

Five small boats began charging the US ships, dropping boxes in the water in front of the ships and forcing the US ships to take evasive maneuvers, the Pentagon official said.

There were no injuries but the official said there could have been, because the Iranian boats turned away “literally at the very moment that US forces were preparing to open fire” in self defense.

The official said he did not have the precise transcript of communications that the two forces exchanged, but said the Iranians radioed something like “we’re coming at you and you’ll explode in a couple minutes.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that the confrontation was “something normal” and was resolved. It suggested the Iranian boats had not recognized the US vessels.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini played down the incident, suggesting it was an issue of mis-identification. He did not comment on the US claims of the Iranian boats’ actions.

“That is something normal that takes place every now and then for each party, and it (the problem) is settled after identification of the two parties,” he told the state news agency IRNA.

The incident was “similar to past ones” that were resolved “once the two sides recognized each other,” he said.