Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Naval Force Commander Alireza Tangsiri revealed that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has tasked the IRGC with making Arab Gulf islands "habitable."
This includes the occupied Emirati islands. Meanwhile, the IRGC is trying to justify its retaliation against US forces in the Arab Gulf amid a raging war of words between Washington and Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had accused the US of conspiring daily against Iran.
Tangsiri warned that the IRGC would not allow "the presence of foreign warships in this region."
Revealing Khamenei's plans to develop the islands in a radio interview, Tangsiri did not elaborate on why and when he issued the order.
Tangsiri, however, revealed that settlements were a part of the plan.
Tangsiri called the US military presence in the region illegitimate, mindless of the fact that it was Iran's aggressive moves including attacks on civilian navigation in international waters in 2019 that prompted US allies in the region to call for the presence of European and US fleets.
He said when Khamenei wants to make the islands habitable, "this means that we want to make the region secure."
Tangsiri added that the IRGC has built international airports in Abu Musa and the Greater Tunb Islands and another island has been constructed in the Lesser Tunb.
"They must understand the situation by that name and by the coastal nation that has protected this waterway for thousands of years," AFP quoted Rouhani as saying in a televised address during a cabinet meeting.
"They should not plot against the Iranian nation every day,” he added.
“The soldiers of our armed forces in the guardians of the Revolution, the army, Basij (paramilitary organization) and the police have always been and will be the guardians of the Gulf,” Rouhani said.
Tehran and Washington have traded barbs over a spate of incidents in the past year involving their forces in the sensitive waters of the Gulf.
Their latest high-seas confrontation came on April 15, when the United States said 11 Iranian boats harassed its navy ships in what it described as the international waters of the Arabian Gulf.
President Donald Trump then tweeted that he had ordered the US Navy to "shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea".