Keep guessing: US deploying fighter jets to the Gulf?
The Air Force did not specify the exact number or location of the recently-deployed F-22 Raptors, but confirmed that they had been sent to a base in Southwest Asia, a region that includes the UAE.
“Such deployments strengthen military-to-military relationships, promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations and enhance interoperability of forces, equipment and procedures,” said Air Force spokesman Capt. Phil Ventura.
Numerous reports assert that the planes have been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, just 200 miles from Iran's mainland.
The move is viewed by many as a precautionary measure ahead of crucial nuclear talks with Iran.
Washington, however, says it is a scheduled deployment and not a threat to Tehran.
Iran agreed earlier this month to discuss its nuclear program without preconditions, but refused to have private bilateral talks with a US delegation. The next round of talks is scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad.
The F-22 Raptor is considered to be the world's most sophisticated fighter. Though the F-22 has been deployed before, it has never been combat-tested since being declared operational in 2005.
Jason Ditz, a news editor at antiwar.com, believes the deployment will not bring about a higher level of security.
“If anything, it’s going to increase tensions in the region, convince the Iranian government that next month’s talks in Baghdad are not serious, and that the US is simply negotiating in bad faith once again,” Ditz told RT.
He noted that while the US and Israel were unlikely to launch an attack on Iran in the coming months, the move was nonetheless meant to be a provocation.
“The fact that they’re rumored to be organizing a simulated attack on Iran, with the cooperation of Israel, would certainly be a strong symbolic move – particularly since it’s supposed to come just two months ahead of the Baghdad talks,” Ditz added.