US Navy Combined Task Force 151 has been ordered to stop ships that are smuggling arms to Hamas, according to reports in the London Times, Haaretz and yNet. Additionally, a French Frigate has been ordered to the area to stop arms smuggling. French President Sarkozy ordered the French Foreign Minister to work with the US and Europe to find methods to stop the arms smuggling to Hamas.
Israeli military intelligence has been circulating documents that suggest that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a large program in place to re-arm Hamas after the recent fighting with Israel in Gaza.
Last week, the crew from the USS San Antonio (LPD-17) boarded a Cypriot flagged ship owned by Iran, and it is believed that weapons were found. These weapons were heading from Iran to Hamas. This event occurred on January 19-20. Some reports suggest that this was originally a covert op that was initiated because of the "memorandum of understanding" between the US and Israel that was signed on January 16.
There is some discussion as to the legal basis for the boarding and any future boarding in international waters as the ship was flying the flag of a nation.
The concern of course is what happens next? If the US Navy moves to stop Iranian shipping of weapons--which I believe it should-- and an Iranian ship decides it is not going to "heave to" then what? What are the rules of engagement in this situation? Does the Navy fire a shot across the bow? Does the Navy disable a rudder with a shot or small torpedo? How does Iran respond, if the US fires on an Iranian ship that refuses to stop? How do we react, should an Iranian vessel fire upon us, or members of a boarding party are killed? Are we looking at the opening moves of the next war? Or will Iran back down like the Soviets did with Cuba in 1962?
Iran is determined to re-arm Hamas, just as they are determined to acquire nukes. All of this is for one purpose-- to annihilate Israel. The US should of course stop Iran. Hamas is a terrorist organization and is responsible for the deaths of Israeli's as well as Americans and people of other countries. They, like the Taliban, are not a legitimate government. They are terrorists.
The US used to believe in stopping terrorist threats. I hope we still do.