Iran’s dangerous game in the Gulf of Oman: analysis

Iranian media claim that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps humiliated the United States in a unique operation that allegedly prevented “piracy” against Iranian oil. Iran claims that the United States intercepted an Iranian tanker and seized the oil and that Iran then sent its IRGC and landed on an oil tanker using helicopters and took it back to Iran. Iran is under US sanctions and recent reports had said that Iran was trying to renew oil exports to various countries, such as China.

This is not the first time the United States has dumped Iranian oil. The United States seized fuel from four tankers in August 2020. More than one million barrels of Iranian oil were seized and sold in that incident involving four Iranian ships. In 2019, the Iranian tanker Grace 1 was intercepted by the British Royal Marines, but was later released from Gibraltar. Grace 1 was renamed Adrian Darya and turned off its AIS tracking beacon and headed for Syria after the incident in 2019.Meanwhile, Iran attempted to intercept the British Heritage tanker and then seized the British tanker Stena Impero in the fall of 2019. , and finally released him. in September 2019.

Iran frequently tries to send fuel to Syria and now even Lebanon. This has caused other tensions. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Israel had targeted Iranian tankers bound for Syria. An alleged undercover IRGC “mothership” named Saviz was also attacked in April in the Red Sea, according to reports. The MV Helios Ray was attacked in February. That ship was said to be Israeli-owned in the reports. Other incidents followed; the Lori was attacked in March and the Tyndall in July. The MV Hyperion Ray was also attacked in April.

USNI said in late July that “an exploding drone killed two crew members aboard a merchant tanker off the coast of Oman, the US Fifth Fleet said in a statement late Friday. The two were members of the crew aboard the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mercer Street when the ship was hit by at least one explosives-laden unmanned aerial vehicle Thursday night, according to the statement. ”

This is the context of new reports that an Iranian tanker was detained and its fuel seized by the United States, only for Iran to allegedly retake a different tanker carrying the fuel. Iran leaked details of a “pirate” attack on November 1. Now it appears to be the same story Iran revealed on Wednesday. For Iran, the United States are “pirates.”

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) ship sails at an undisclosed location off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran, on August 22, 2019 (credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE / WANA VIA REUTERS)

The danger in these situations is that things could go wrong for Iran or the United States during these attempts by Iran to retake a ship or harass other ships. Iran has already killed two innocent crew members in an attack in July. Iran views these waters as its backyard and likes to brag that it can harass the United States or others. In May and June 2019, for example, Iran extracted ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. In October, Iran said it intercepted a US naval vessel. In April, the US navy fired warning shots after Iran harassed the US ship.

Iran seeks to increase its naval capabilities. It uses drones and speedboats, and two of its ships recently sailed for Russia. Tensions now between Iran, the United States and Israel mean that one of these incidents could spiral out of control. Iran wants to test the determination of the United States. It is unclear how the United States will respond to the recent incident. It could become yet another story of Iran grabbing a ship, like the story of the Gulf Sky, a ship that disappeared in 2020 and then reappeared in Iran.

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