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January 23, 2008

Naval Incident Shows Need for Greater Communication

The radio transmission that almost caused a firefight between US navy warships and the Iranian military might have been the work of a heckler known as the ‘Filipino monkey.’

A nuisance to sailors of many stripes in the Strait of Hormuz, the ‘Filipino monkey’ strikes with profanity-laden insults and threats to the crew of vessels traveling this waterway. According to the video released by the Pentagon, a voice is heard threatening to ‘blow up’ the US ships. However, the voice issuing the threats appears to be different from that of the Iranian naval officer speaking to one of the ships from the craft.  Navy officials acknowledged they could not identify the source of the transmissions.
 With accusations exchanged on both sides, this incident only strengthens the need for Iran and the United States to communicate. The level of tension exhibited in  this small incident underlines the great danger that the US and Iran will find if they do not communicate, turning a small, potentially provocative event into a larger conflict. The United States and Iran should explore a bilateral agreement based on the Incidents of Sea agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. An agreement would open lines of communication for both sides, declare intentions and resolve any crises.
This incident underscores that only diplomacy between the US and Iran will avert future crises like this.

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