Iran attempted to seize a British tanker in retaliation for the arrest of an Iranian vessel from Gibraltar. The United States is collecting a coalition against Tehran. What can lead the tanker war in the Persian Gulf and why is Trump’s strategy doomed to failure?
New conflict in the Persian Gulf. The incidents with attacked oil ships that began in May escalated into a full-fledged “tanker war”.
Another cause for concern was the incident in the Strait of Hormuz. In the key artery of the region, through which 1/5 of the world oil trade passes, there was a clash between the Iranian Navy and the British tanker British Heritage. The Iranians overtook a merchant ship when it was located near the island of Abu Musa, controlled by Iran, but disputed by the UAE.
Five boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the United States added to the list of terrorist organizations, demanded that the British tanker change course and stop in the territorial waters of Iran. But, to the dismay of the Persians, British Heritage was accompanied by the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose. Iranian boats quickly had to retreat.
When the military laid down their arms, diplomats set to work. The Foreign Office accused Iran of violating international law.
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) rejects its participation in the incident. The IRGC declared that “in the past 24 hours there has not been a single case” with foreign courts, including the British. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the accusations of London baseless.
The confrontation between Britain and Iran is the result of the arrest of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar. The British seized the ship under the pretext of violating EU sanctions. Presumably, Grace 1 delivered oil from Iran to Syria.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that he would not leave unanswered the aggression of London.
On the edge of the blade
The chronology of events in the Gulf region over the past two months showed that the warring parties embarked on a very dangerous path. Events develop according to the same pattern: attack on a ship – the prosecution – the denial of the attack – the absence of negotiations.
Judge for yourself. In mid-May, when drones off the coast of Al Fujairah (UAE) attacked four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, the United States, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia immediately accused Iran. A month later, in the nearby Gulf of Oman, tankers Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair were blown up. And again, with fake video evidence, Tehran was called the aggressor.
On June 20, Iranians shot down an American drone RQ-4 Global Hawk. Iran believed that the drone violated Iranian airspace, but Centcom denied this fact. Two weeks later, the British arrested an Iranian tanker on charges of illegally transporting oil to Syria.
The positions of the parties are irreconcilable in advance. Iran considers itself a victim of a conspiracy to drive Tehran into a complete economic blockade. And the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf are fully confident that the Islamic Republic of Iran specifically obstructs the freedom of navigation.
Who is right?
It is not easy to answer the question, because no one can say for sure who is attacking tankers.
Yes, the United States provided videos of Iranian boats sailing. But this does not prove that the military removed mine from the tanker Kokuka Courageous. Secondly, it is still unclear what the downed drone did in Iran’s airspace. Or maybe it is it that attacks Saudi and other tankers in order to shift the blame on Tehran?
You can not discount the version that Iran is also capable of drastic steps. Remember how many times Tehran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz.
Threats against foreign ships are understandable, given that the United States is trying to reduce the export of Iranian oil to “zero barrels per day.” US sanctions are not supported by Europe, but the EU does not run the risk of bypassing and also stopped buying “black gold” from Iran.
Iran is a powerful, almost regional leader. By and large, it is now meaningless, without having clear evidence, to talk about who is right and who is to blame.
The second question that interests everyone: What will happen next?
The main problem of the growing war is the absence of negotiations. Trump does not speak to Rouhani, although he occasionally expresses such a desire. Instead of diplomacy, the United States threatens to launch an air strike, gather an anti-Iranian coalition, and hold anti-Iran conferences.
Trump is trying to increase the pressure, but it is unclear for what purpose. The latest incident showed that tensions in the Persian Gulf could escalate. Iran’s violation of the “nuclear deal” and an attempt to stop the British ship will speed up the creation of an alliance with Trump with the participation of the Allied Navy and bring the US position closer to the EU.
Trump’s tactics and strategy
The Trump administration is interested in two things. First, that Iran did not get nuclear weapons and once did not use them against Israel or the Saudis. Secondly, to prevent Tehran from strengthening in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, that is, to become a hegemon in the Middle East. The dilemma is that these are two incompatible goals. The United States imposes sanctions to deprive Iran of money to sponsor its proxies in Syria, Lebanon, etc. But Iran is responding with a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA) by developing nuclear weapons. If Trump makes a bid to prevent Iran from getting a bomb, he will have to go back to the “nuclear deal”. But the latter does not forbid Tehran to expand its influence in the region.
By Stacy Little