In two separate decrees, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri as the new commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) navy and the outgoing commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi as IRGC deputy commander for coordination.
Khamenei called on Tangsiri to employ and train skilled forces, use “state of the art” naval equipment, and be mindful of the livelihood needs of servicemen, with a focus on establishing an “ever-growing and vigilant” naval force in full coordination with other sectors of the IRGC, state-run Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported on August 23.
He also thanked Fadavi for his service during his term as the IRGC Navy commander. Fadavi had held the post since 2010.
Earlier, on a TV show, Fadavi had insisted that his forces’ aim was to push U.S. forces out of the Persian Gulf.
Tangsiri has maintained a tough position on U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf and Radio Farda's Morad Veisi who is an expert on IRGC believes that might have played a role in his appointment.
The supreme leader also called on the incoming commander, who served as Fadavi's deputy prior to his promotion, to strengthen the infrastructure of the IRGC Navy and boost the combat preparedness of its forces, reported Iran’s state-run English-speaking Press TV.
Khamenei made the appointments in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Iranian Armed Forces, in what official sources said was based on the recommendation of Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the elite force's chief commander.
The new appointments are announced at a time when following Washington’s withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, and the renewal of U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, several Iranian military commanders have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
The military commanders issued the threats after President Hassan Rouhani’s hawkish comments on July 3. Praising Rouhani’s “firm stance” against the United States, the chief commander of IRGC said on July 5 that their forces were ready to block the strait, which links the gulf to the open sea.
If Iran cannot sell its oil under U.S. pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to either, Jafari repeated Rouhani’s rhetoric.
“We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed. We will make the enemy understand that either everyone can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” Jafari was cited as saying by IRGC-run Tasnim news agency.
Retaliating to Rouhani’s threatening comments, the U.S. military’s Central Command said on July 5, “The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure free navigation and the flow of commerce as Iran’s Revolution Guards warned they would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.”
Furthermore, retired Admiral James Stavridis had previously told CNBC that in the event Iran chooses to militarily close the Strait of Hormuz, the United States and its Arab allies would be able to open it in a matter of days.
James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey who now serves as an expert at the Washington Institute, had also previously told Business Insider that Tehran was bluffing about closing the Strait of Hormuz to rattle markets and raise the price of oil.
"They're doing this to spook consumers," Jeffrey said.
The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Persian Gulf since 2003 to “implement international maritime law.”
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow sea passage linking the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, through which about 30 percent of the world's oil supply passes.