Iran threatens to shoot down US spy planes

Iran threatened to shoot down two U.S. spy planes flying in international waters in the Straits of Hormuz.  The planes were on a surveillance mission and were flying 13 miles off the coast of Iran when the threat was made.

Fox News:

At some point during the flight, the Iranian military warned the two aircraft to change course or risk getting shot down. 

The US military planes ignored the warning and continued flying in international airspace, although close to Iranian territory, the officials told Fox.  

“We wanted to test the Iranian reaction,” one US official told Fox News when asked why the US jets were flying close to Iran.

“It’s one thing to tell someone to get off your lawn, but we weren’t on their lawn,” the official continued.  “Anytime you threaten to shoot someone down, it’s not considered professional.”

The official said the Iranian behavior was characterized as “unprofessional.”  Another official said the incident was not considered “unsafe” because there were no Iranian missile launchers in the area, according to the latest intelligence reports.

The latest incident between the US military and Iran is just the latest in a series of confrontations in region.

Last month, Iranian fast-boats harassed US Navy warships in the Persian Gulf on at least five occasions.  One incident resulting in three warning shots being fired from a US Navy coastal patrol craft, when an Iranian vessel ignored repeated radio calls to change course.  On another occasion, an Iranian boat stopped 100 yards in front of a US Navy ship forcing it to take evasive maneuvers.

Over the weekend, a senior Iranian military commander dismissed claims that his vessels had harassed US Navy ships in in the Persian Gulf saying his nation acted in accordance with internationally recognized maritime law.

"Iranian boats continue to act based on defined standards and are well aware of the international laws and regulations, so the claims are not only untrue, but stem from their fear of the power of Iran's soldiers," said Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, according to state news agency IRNA and reported by AFP.

Dangerous interactions at sea between Iran and the US Navy have doubled in the first half of 2016 compared to the same time last year, Fox News first reported last month.

On Aug. 30, the head of US forces in the Middle East was asked to explain Iran’s perceived aggressiveness.

“This is principally the regime leadership trying to exert their influence and authority in the region.  And they are trying to do it in provocative ways,” said Gen. Joe Votel, commander of US Central Command at a Pentagon press briefing.

In other words, Iran is flexing its muscles by trying to humiliate the United States, making us look weak.  So far, they are doing a damn fine job of it.

This is not what was expected after the nuclear deal was agreed to.  Perhaps the administration didn't believe all would be clover and unicorns with Iran, but at the very least we were told that Iran would now cooperate in the fight against the Islamic State and take other steps with the U.S. to ease tensions in the region.

Instead, the exact opposite has happened.  Iran is taking on the Islamic State entirely on its own terms without any U.S. assistance.  And instead of lowering tensions in the region, the Iranians have sought at almost every turn to fan the flames of the Shia-Sunni conflict, threatening war with Saudi Arabia, all but taking over Iraq, and meddling in the civil war in Yemen.

It's a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions regardless of Iran making any progress to build a nuclear weapon.  Our billions in cash payments to Iran have enabled the terrorist regime to fund not only Hezb'allah, who is killing U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, but also the Houthis in Yemen, who continue to fight the elected government.  One would assume that Iran is also funding prominent terror groups in the region.

Former vice president Cheney wrote a few days ago that "no American president has done more to weaken the U.S., hobble our defenses, or aid our adversaries."  President Obama will leave office considering his performance in that regard a job well done.

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