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Israel Claims Iran Attacked It’s Ship, Vows A Response

An apparent suicide drone attack on a ship off the coast of Oman, owned by an Israeli billionaire, is being blamed on the Islamic Republic of Iran. With no confirmation on who is truly responsible, it is easy to understand why this may have happened at this time.

Two foreign nationals were killed as a result of the explosive-laden drone attack on the ‘MT Mercer Street’ ship, owned by Israeli billionaire, Eyal Ofer. The immediate response from the Israeli government was to blame Iran for the attack, with one official being quoted as saying “our campaign against them (Iran) will continue”.

Fears have now been sparked that the incident may cause some sort of military escalation between Iran and Israel, which could drag in the United States.

Israel reportedly reached out to the United Kingdom, after it was confirmed that a British national was killed in the attack, asking for a revenge plan to be drafted. In response it seems that, at least openly, the UK has backed down from the idea with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab snubbing calls for retaliation

Iranian State owned Arabic language channel al-Alam, had reportedly cited sources claiming that the attack was in retaliation for the recent illegal Israeli strikes on Syria, which killed “two resistance men”. Whilst Israel’s Channel 13, said to possess close government and military sources, says that Israel thinks the strike came as a response to the hacking of Iran’s train system in July. Channel 13 however did not name any of its sources for the allegations made. It also stated that the attack was designed to send up the prices of insurance for ships operating in the Persian Gulf.

The fact that the Drone attack killed people is not the most important aspect of the strike, however, it has made the event more serious. The reason why it is not necessarily the most key part of the story, is because it is unknown right now as to whether specific individuals were targeted or whether it was a mistake. Although, what was most emphatically not a mistake, was the decision not to sink the ship. The reason for not sinking the ship was to place the extra burden on the ship owners in terms of higher costs and repairs, for them it would be cheaper and easier if the ship was sunk.

Without concluding exactly who conducted the strike, with the most likely options coming from Iran or Yemen, it is however valid to analyze what may have been the trigger for an Iranian strike given that Israel has now made the allegation.

To start with, Israel and Iran have been engaged in a long hall “silent” war on each other’s ships, with tens of attacks having allegedly taken place, where blame has been allocated to either side. On the Iranian side, it has often been difficult to determine with any amount of certainty whether it was the doing of Iran or one of its allies. Whilst on the Israeli side, direct admission has been avoided by the Israeli regime itself, however, US and Israeli media have been able to quote trustable sources to confirm their involvement.

This latest strike, if the Channel 13 report brings a correct analysis from the Israeli government, is not likely to do with any specific Israeli action directly against Iran. Instead, it is more likely to do with the actions of Israel in Syria, as al-Alam had suggested, or more likely to do with the actions of the US Biden administration.

Whilst running on the campaign promise of re-entering the Iran Nuclear Deal, US President Joe Biden has instead followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Not only this, but the refusal of the US to lift its crippling sanctions war against Iran is continuing to drag the living standards of Iranians down.

As the endless rounds of talks to revive the Nuclear Deal in Vienna have led nowhere, the US has continued to stick to its militaristic message-sending approach to Iran by using its air force in Syria and Iraq against Iranian aligned groups within the PMU. This hardline strategy is also now being followed through with new sanctions, which are allegedly being drafted to target Iran’s drone and missile development programs. There is also talk of the United States further enforcing its sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.

If the US is planning to tighten its sanctions on Iran, by going to greater lengths to enforce them, and also seeks to approve additional sanctions, this in and of itself may have been enough for Iran to send a clear message of disapproval in the form of targeting the ship. This is not proof of Iranian guilt, but would offer a reasonable explanation as to why Iran may have been led to take this option.

It is well known that Israel, not part of the Iran Nuclear Deal, has been one of the biggest obstacles to the deal’s success – if not the biggest. The Israelis have also adopted a much more militaristic approach to combating the deal than even the US, with Israel launching countless forms of sabotage, attacks, and spy missions inside of Iran. Not to say that the US is not also engaged in such attempts to damage Iran, but without a doubt the Israelis have been the most militant. The most obvious of Israel’s attacks was its assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Tehran late last year.

Therefore, an attack on a ship owned by an Israeli would appear to be the most obvious target. This also, by extension, makes shipping in the Persian Gulf area more expensive in general and puts the US on the edge of their seats. It is especially the case with the American government now understanding that Iran has the offensive capabilities to render the majority of their regionally based forces defenseless, in the event of direct open warfare.

There is, however, the more obvious explanation for the opposite point of view; that Israel knows the attack did not come from Iran and is using this as an excuse to further split Iran-US relations. If this was to be the case, it would likely be about preventing any progress towards a re-establishment of the Iran Nuclear Deal prior to newly elected Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, coming to power.

Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet, has now stated that Israel will respond in its own way, as a commander of Iran’s Naval command vowed a crushing response if “the enemy” launched its own attack. Regardless of whether this scenario escalates dramatically or not, the tensions between Iran and Israel have perhaps never been higher and the chance of direct military engagement seems to be close.

Robert Inlakesh
Robert Inlakesh is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, Middle-East analyst & news correspondent for The Last American Vagabond.

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