De-escalate Now

14 May 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Oil Tankers Attacked off UAE Coast, Tensions Rise


Four oil tankers were attacked Sunday in the Persian/Arabian Gulf doing minimal damage but putting everyone even more on edge than before. The US is blaming Iran, Iran appears to think Israel did it, and the Saudis are hardly commenting in any useful way. This comes at a time when US, Iranian and Arab leaders are already ratcheting up the propaganda. As this is written, reports are crossing the wires saying there has been a drone attack on a Saudi pipeline. If cooler heads don't prevail pretty soon, everyone is going to suffer.

The Trump administration has had its heart set on some kind of conflict, either military or otherwise, with Iran for months if not years. It withdrew unilaterally from the Iran nuke deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- JPCOA) that lessened sanctions on Iran in exchange for a freeze on Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Upon walking out, the Trump administration tightened sanctions.

Last week, Iran announced that it was growing tired of keeping its word to the global community while the Americans have not. President Hassan Rouhani told the other parties to the JCPOA that they had 60 days to implement their proposals for working around the US sanctions and permitting Iran to sell its oil.

Yesterday, Washington let it be known (in other words someone deliberately leaked to the press) that the Pentagon was drawing up plans to put 125,000 US troops in the Persian/Arabian Gulf area. They are not going to deploy to invade Iran, largely because that number is insufficient. Yet if that is the case, what purpose with they serve? The only logical explanation is to heighten tensions further and to act as a trip wire if Iran miscalculates.

That suggests that the US wants to escalate matters with Iran, and unless one is a conspiracy theorist of the highest order (in which case the attacks on the ships were a CIA job), at least one other actor in the region is willing to bomb civilian ships to make things hotter. This journal questions just how much authority President Rouhani truly has over Iran's Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force. It is quite conceivable that they have acted without his knowledge.

Of course, both sides are posturing for peace. "The president has been clear, the United States does not seek military conflict with Iran, and he is open to talks with Iranian leadership," Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, said Monday in an email. "However, Iran’s default option for 40 years has been violence, and we are ready to defend U.S. personnel and interests in the region."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting, "Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned the possible shipping attacks as 'alarming and regrettable' and said it would have a 'negative effect' on shipping safety and maritime security, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency."

What is also troubling is the opacity of the UAE and Saudis in this matter. They have produced no photographs of the damage, nor have they disclosed what they are doing in terms of investigation and mitigation.

As for the just-reported attack on a Saudi pipeline, it could have been the Iranians, the Yemeni rebels the Saudis are fighting, or the Saudis themselves -- if the attack occurred at all.

This journal sides with Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, who said, "We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side."

Talking would not get anyone killed. It might be a wise thing to try.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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