Time to See Through the Surface of Persian Gulf
Two tankers traveling through the Gulf of Oman were attacked on Thursday, June 13, forcing the crews to abandon the ships, and which left one of the ships on fire.
The ships were the Front Altair, a tanker owned by Frontline which was shipping naphtha to Taiwan, and the Kokuka Courageous, a ship owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo, was transporting methanol to Singapore.
As always, the US made claims. This time, the US Navy claimed to have seen an unexploded mine on one of the two ships. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other US officials immediately blamed Iran. However, the owner of the Japanese tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, the Kokuka Courageous, has contradicted the US military’s claims about the attack.
Central Command claimed the two tankers were hit with limpet mines, a type of mine that is attached to the hull of a ship below the waterline using magnets. But Yutaka Katada said a projectile hit the ship.
“We received reports that something flew towards the ship,” Katada said at a press conference, “The place where the projectile landed was significantly higher than the water level, so we are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo. I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”
US Central Command, however, released a grainy black and white video of a boat alongside a ship, claiming it was an Iranian patrol boat removing a limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous, the claim being they were getting rid of the evidence. The video does not conclusively prove anything, as it is hard to tell what the boat is doing.
The big questions are, as always, motive. Iran has no conceivable reason to attack such ships. In this case, one of the ships is even Japanese-owned. Japan is a very important trading partner of Iran, and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was visiting Iran at the time, trying to reduce tensions. Abe also declared Iran to have no intention to make nuclear arms. This would be a preposterous move for Iran to even consider.
Little wonder Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif declared that “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe” what happened, noting that the attacks were timed to when Abe was meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.
Then again, the fact that the White House still blamed Iran should not be a surprise to anyone. The move was very much predictable. In an effort to boost Iranophobic discourse, the US believes that they can justify their campaign of pressure against Iran by blaming everything in the Middle East on Tehran without nuance or thought. In doing so, they purposefully ignore the historical irony that terrorism in the Middle East and on Western soil has not stemmed from Tehran, but is a product of Wahabi-Salafism which has been aggressively promoted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
With this in hand, the US repeatedly ignores how their repeated military interference within the region and uncritical support of Israel is, in fact, the real cause of extremism and instability within the Middle East. People must see through this surface.
They see Iran as an easy country to demonize. It’s a country which owing to the legacy of American support for the Pahlavi dynasty up until 1979, is fueled by resentment of Washington for its political interference. The Iranian revolution was as much nationalist as it was religious. As a result, the country chose a path of contention against the United States and its allies.
Of course, Washington still isn’t telling us the whole story. The real reason extremism and terrorism have been so abundant throughout the Middle East is not because of “Iran” or for that matter, not Islam in any organic form itself, but because the political and social conditions of the region are constantly destabilized and uprooted by the US and company which continue to militarily intervene, cause needless wars and chaos throughout the region.
The constant US-led militarism within the region and also its unrelenting support of all things Israel and Saudi is the primary cause of instability, ideological upheaval and political uncertainty within the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The easy and cynical scapegoating of Iran is silly, as it is built upon a rotten foundation which amounts to not only a total incomprehension of Washington’s impact in the region but an outright denial of history itself.