On Tuesday evening, reports began to emerge from Iranian media that an Iranian cargo had been struck, in the Red Sea, which has now been tied to Israel. But what does this incident show and why has it happened now?
The Iranian cargo vessel, identified as the Saviz, was revealed to have been struck with mines – planted on the ship – by Iranian media and online Social Media accounts associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The vessel had reportedly been used to deter piracy and so far it is unclear the extent to which the vessel was damaged.
Talking to the New York Times, an unnamed US official stated that Israel had confirmed to the American government that they had hit the Iranian vessel at around 7:30 am (local time). The official also stated that this was reportedly Israel’s response to an alleged Iranian strike on an Israeli-owned ship back in March. The New York Times however, makes an error in their report, claiming that an “Iranian missile” hit the ship, when it was later concluded that mines were used and that the damage was inconsistent with a missile.
The Israelis however, regardless of whether the March 25 attack was Iran’s doing, have significantly escalated tensions with their attack. This attack is the first known of its kind on an Iranian military vessel. The attack according to the NYT source also targeted the ship below water, indicating the intention to sink the ship. The attack on the Israeli vessel back in March had struck above water, in order to inflict damage but not to sink the vessel.
Most important to note here, is the timing of the attack. It followed a meeting in Vienna, this Monday, which seemed to leave the US government heading in a more positive direction regarding its stated intention to re-enter the Iran Nuclear Deal. Despite the US meeting in a separate building to its Iranian counterparts, the meeting managed to cause more positive reverberations than anything else.
Israel is a direct opponent of the deal and has actively sought to undermine the chances of US President Joe Biden re-entering it. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has sworn that whether a deal is in place or not, Israel will act, if no one else will, to stop “Iran’s pursuit of a Nuclear Weapon” which has been taken as a direct threat to Iran. Israeli General Aviv Kochavi also threatened to pursue offensive options against Iran, back in January.
This Tuesday, Iranian intelligence sources, speaking to Iranian media, stated that they had arrested an Israeli spy operating in the East Azerbaijan Province of the country. Israeli spies have been repeatedly caught in the country, as well as having been accused of carrying out sabotage and spying on nuclear/military facilities.
Significantly, Israel was responsible for the illegal assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh; an attack which took place close to the country’s capital and was a demonstrable violation of International Law. The illegality of Israel’s actions is perhaps one of the reasons why they seldom deny nor confirm any attacks, but allow for the media to do the bragging for them.
Israel has also been revealed to have played a role in the US assassination of Iran’s top General, Qassem Soleimani of the IRGC’S Quds Forces.
Yet despite all the antagonizing, Iran has not responded militarily to Israel. The only possible argument you could make, is that these relatively minor attacks on ships – which didn’t injure or kill anyone – are their responses, which makes no sense. This is a key point which I believe truly sums up the hypocrisy of Western media coverage, when it comes to the conflict between Iran and Israel.
It is Israel that is the aggressor, and not the other way around. It is also Israel that illegally possesses Nuclear Weapons, is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement and is a direct threat – by its own leaders statements – to Iran.
If Iran does not hit Israel for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist; its involvement in assassinating its top general; attacks on its military vessels; attacks on allied forces; attacks inside the country; sabotage; or spying – and the list goes on – how can Israel possibly argue Iran is a direct threat to its existence?
Israel understands that in only two weeks Presidential campaigns will start in the lead up to Iran’s June 18 elections and wants to play on this. Israel knows that it can more easily pressure Iran into militarily responding to it, by putting the current President Hassan Rouhani in a weak position. If the Conservatives in Iran use the weakness in the face of foreign attacks to their benefit, Rouhani may be forced into a show of strength, especially if he cannot salvage the nuclear deal.
The Conservatives in Iran were opposed to the Nuclear Deal from the very start, they did not trust the US government and predicted that it would not honor its commitments. This turned out to be true, and instead of Iran dealing with its old sanctions, after having some short room for breathing space, they were hit with new sanctions – sanctions tougher than ever before.
The situation right now could well prove to be Israel seeking to derail talks to re-establish the JCPOA and attempting to draw Iran into an overtly aggressive response. If Iran strikes Israel, it will likely be lights out for the nuclear deal and all the key players understand this. Israel also knows that Iran’s responses will be measured and does not fear an overwhelming strike; according to past examples it is likely they would lie about the real impacts. If the Israeli government’s scripts (written to conclude bouts with Lebanese Hezbollah) give any indication of a future feud with Iran, they would behave like heroes to the Israeli people, having outsmarted/outperformed the bloodthirsty enemy and to the international community they would play victim.
Regardless of what happens from this point onwards, what is crystal clear is that Iran has demonstrated well its composure. If the Western media were honest in their assessments, they would at least have to concede that their previous descriptions of Iran were incorrect.