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      US, Allies Launch Largest-Ever Persian Gulf Drill

      Sailors from 25 nations began mock military battles in the Persian Gulf on Sunday in the largest ever naval exercise in the region.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 9/19/2012, 10:18 AM

      US-China cooperation during operation in drill
      US-China cooperation during operation in drill
      Reuters

      Sailors from 25 nations began mock military battles in the Persian Gulf on Sunday in the largest ever naval exercise in the region, IMCMEX-12. The war games are focused on clearing mines that Tehran, or guerrilla groups, may deploy in an attempt to block traffic in the waterway. Included in the armada along with the United States are Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others.

      "Planning was completed last week for the exercise that will focus on a hypothetical threat to mine the international strategic waterways of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf,” according to a statement quoted by Bloomberg and issued by the U.S. Central Command.

      The 12-day drill, which lasts until September 27, is largely meant to test whether the United States and its allies can block an offensive from Iran. The Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to block the Strait of Hormuz – the entrance to the Gulf – a waterway that is a main artery through which more than 20 percent of the world's oil is shipped. The drill is also subtly intended to show Israel the U.S. is serious about blocking the Islamic Republic's nuclear development activities – an issue the Obama administration has refused nail down with Israel's Netanyahu government. The Obama White House has grown increasingly fearful that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear installations before America's national elections in November.

      Obama has refused to meet with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, citing scheduling differences. When the Israeli prime minister said he would fly to Washington D.C. to accommodate the American president's schedule, however, Obama still insisted he had no time to meet with Netanyahu – a diplomatic faux pas that follows a parade of others committed against the Israeli leader throughout the Democratic president's current term. The tension between the two men is well known; nevertheless, this will be the first time ever that an Israeli prime minister will have visited the United States and had his request to meet with the president outright rejected.

      The implications, regardless of “quick fix” attempted by both men last week with an “extended phone call” between Washington and Jerusalem, are ominous, especially in light of the current Muslim violence directed at global U.S. diplomats and facilities, and Obama's limp response to those threats.

      The incumbent is facing a tough fight against Republican presidential contender Governor Mitt Romney. The GOP candidate has been blunt in his criticism of Obama's show of weakness in the face of the Muslim extremist violence directed at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world over the past 10 days. Even a passionate Democratic Obama supporter, former New York Mayor Ed Koch, slammed the president over the Jewish Rosh Hashannah New Year holiday for the dangerous message being sent to jihadists by the White House.

      Radical Islamists used the excuse of an amateur anti-Muslim video clip produced by someone in the United States, and posted to the Internet, to justify the murderous attacks directed at Americans and U.S. diplomatic missions. Among those was a murderous attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of the Al Qaeda terror organization's attack on the United States, where for the first time in 33 years, an American ambassador and three American diplomats were murdered.