Oil tanker in The Strait of Hormuz, betwen Iran and the United Arab Emirates (Picture source) Reuters / Hamad I Mohammed
Whenever we at Boggart Blog / The Daily Stirrer read or hear of an international incident that raises tensions between east and west and for which the official news story makes no sense at all, all three of us being the kind of old gits whe had to lean Latin at school, ask ourselves “Cui Bono? (who benefits.)” It was not having to learn Latin that made us so cynical but learning about Marcus Tullius Cicero who always began his analysis of political events in Rome by asking that very question.
So I asked myself “who benefits?” on hearing that two oil tankers had been attacked and damaged, and by the time Washington, with is usual incredible alacrity (think of 9/11, flight MH17 and the alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria for starters,) had accused Iran of being responsible for the attacks I was aware of certain significant factors not mentioned in mainstream media reports.Despite the lurid accusations from Washington, led by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who accused Iran of attacking the two ships and linking the latest incident to two other recent tanker attacks, drones hitting Saudi oil pumps, and a missile hitting a Saudi airport earlier this week. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to pin the blame for the incident on Iran, claiming that the Islamic Republic was “lashing out” in frustration over Washington’s draconian sanctions regime.
There is absolutely no evidence that the government of Iran is involved. Lack of evidence does not necessarily prove innocence of course, but unsubstantiated accusations do not prove guilt so we should keep our minds open to other possibilities But if nt Iran then who did this and why? And what does that say will happen next? Logically, it was either Iran, or the US, or a third party:
Iran is suffocating under US sanctions, it is a known instigator of such actions via proxies, and has been threatening the EU that it will walk away from the nuclear deal if they won’t help it break the US economic stanglehold. An attack like this would be incredibly stupid (as stupid as Syria’s President Assad launching illegal chemical weapons attacks on rebel held areas when his forces were on the brink of crushing the IsIS rebellion,) … unless they are desperate enough to give The White House an excuse to attack, hoping the Trump adminidtration will back down with the 2020 elections looming and the president’s core voters being averse to further humiliations in the middle east. If that is the case there will be more provocations even as Iran calls this all “beyond suspicious”, “economic terrorism”, and “sabotage diplomacy”.
The US is divided between neo-cons champing at the bit to take on Tehran, war-averse Trump and the isolationist voters who put him in power, and a Pentagon now looking at China and Russia as the real threat. CENTCOM has said a war with Iran is not in the US strategic interest – and after the humiliation of Syria it clearly isn’t. Donald Trump is no fool, no matter what bitter Hillary Clinton supporters say about him. Sure he’s a loudmouth, an egomaniac, and a crass, bombastic bully, but he is not stupid enough to order an attack on Iran, a far more militarily powerful nation than Syria, and equally good buddies with China and Russia.
Third parties ‘state – actors’ to use the words of Secretary Pompeo, are in short supply. Mainstream media will no doubt follow murky social media to point a finger at the Saudis and Israelis but would either want to precipitate a major regional war that would drag them in or would they prefer to sit back and watch sanctions destroy Iran’s economy?
‘Why would Iran do it?’
Tehran has nothing to gain from attacking the oil tankers, defense analyst and retired Lt. General Amjad Shoaib said.
“Why would Iran do it? They have no reason to go to war and they have no reason to escalate the situation,” he stressed.
Tehran has adamantly denied any involvement. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the incident as highly suspicious given that it occurred on the day Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Tehran, according to mainstram reports to act as a mediator in a bid to ease tensions between Iran and the USA. He added that Washington’s evidence-free accusations are designed to “sabotage” Iran’s diplomatic efforts.
According to reports from India, Iran and Japan however though the possibility of Japanese mediation has been discussed there is no plan for Abe to mediate between Iran and the U.S.” ISNA reported.
A member of the Iran’s foreign policy committee also made similar remarks, saying Abe’s trip is not aimed at playing a mediatory role between Iran and the United States.
“The aim of the visit is to expand bilateral relations,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi told Mehr news agency on Monday. “In the years that followed the [Islamic] Revolution, Iran and Japan have enjoyed good relations.”
Boroujerdi said. “The talk of mediation is mere speculation and is not true.”
According to Boroujerdi, Israel is afraid of Japan’s cooperation with Iran and therefore is making efforts to undermine this development.
Though the official line is that the tankers were damaged by mines, Japanese firm, Kokuka Sangyo Co, said on Friday that its tanker had been attacked by two “flying objects” but that there was no damage to the ship’s cargo of methanol.
Added to that is the fact of Iran’s rescue operation which lifted 44 sailors from the two tankers, ‘Front Altair’ and ‘Kokuka Courageous, which could feasibly have been an attempt to divert suspicion after the attack on the two vessels. Similarly pictures produced by Washington purporting to show Iranian military personnel removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers begs the question why would Iran do such a thing if it was behind the attack.
Kourosh Shamlou, an attorney and Middle East specialist commented that it would be completely illogical for Iran to quite literally torpedo such a historic summit, especially since doing so would play into the hands of Washington’s anti-Iran hawks.
“I’m an attorney. You have to know for whom a crime is beneficial. We can see the geopolitical situation of Iran and the US in the Persian Gulf. We can say that the Iranians are not going to torpedo a ship that will lead to the Americans attacking them. It’s going to give the Americans an excuse to attack Iran. So it cannot be the Iranians.”
In fact, the incident has already had negative economic consequences for Iran, Hamed Mousavi, professor of political science at the University of Tehran and visiting professor at Carleton University, noted on RT.
“Iran’s currency lost five percent of its value today just because of talk of escalating tensions as well as perhaps the possibility of war. I think right now Iran wants to de-escalate the situation with the United States,” said Mousavi.
It’s not surprising that media outlets are dutifully relaying Pompeo’s accusations against Iran without questioning his logic – or asking for evidence, commented political analyst Shabbir Razvi. He has a point, that is exactly what they did in the case of all Assad’s alleged atrocities, the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine, the Boston marathon bombers and most other recent outrages.
Razvi stressed that without evidence, it would be irresponsible of Washington – or anyone else – to put forward theories about who was responsible for the attack. However, there’s at least one country that has a documented history of fabricating scenarios to justify military action, Shamlou noted.
“All of a sudden, an accident happens, and [the United States] starts saying ‘it’s the Vietnamese, it’s the Iraqis, it’s the Iranians.’ And then they have a legitimate cause for their people to attack.”
A Non State Actor?
Now I am as sceptical about blaming the USA for every mishap as I am about blaming Russia, China, Israel, Iran or Bogmondorovia (I just made up that name,) for everything that happens. People in Washington have said the attack was too sophisticated and too well organised to be the work of terrorists, only governments would have the human and material resources to organise and execute such an operation. But are they?
On Monday last week, crude oil prices tanked to below $50 per barrel, and driven down by the threat of global recession, some frankly silly commitments by desperate politicians to phase out fossil fuels by 2050, the effects of the esacalating trade war between the USA and China, a less developed threat of a trade war between the USA and EU, threatened to go as low as $40 per barrel. This caused quite a lot of consternation in oil producing states and also among oil extraction companies and processing companies.
And oil companies are the largest customer of paramilitary private security contractors. Oil companies have the finances to mount very sophisticated operations while paramilitary security contractors, recruiting from the elite forces of US, British, French, Australian and who knows what other armies have the personnel capable of carrying out sophisticated covert operations. So on Monday the price of crude oil bombs, Tuesday sees panic in the oil markets and among oil producing nations and oil companies, on Wednesday two tankers get hit in one of the busiest waterways on the planet, a vital route for oil from the Gulf States to the west. And almost immediately oil prices jump, wiping out recent losses.
Join up the dots as they saying goes. Cone on, it isn’t hard – there are only two dots to join. And if you get stuck ask yourself “Cui Bono?” Who benefits from the threat of war in the world’s largest oil producing nations, whose profit margins will be boosted by an oil famine, whose future prospects would be boosted by reminding the world, amid all the talk of sustainable, clean energy, just how dependent on oil our civiliation is?
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