The United States blames Iran once more for the latest attack

The issue between the United States and Iran took a dangerous turn after two ships were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. One of them is operated by a Japanese company.

The tankers were attacked on Thursday, the day Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rhouhani.

Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration blames Iran for the attack.

“{It was not an accident that the Japanese tanker was attacked,” said Alireza Nader, head of the New Iran Foundation, a Washington-based think tank opposed to the Islamic Republic. “Iran is saying to the world we are able to disrupt the world’s oil markets and we’re going to do it.”

However, not everybody believes the story. Mark Cancian, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Marine colonel with decades of practical knowledge of naval warfare, said: ” You have to fully understand what happened before you start shooting.”

“The Department of Defense will be reluctant to retaliate until they are certain what happened and who fired on whom, and why,” Cancian declared.

The United States is boosting up the naval and air force capable of striking Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf last month after the White House said it had information about possible future attacks against US interests. The Pentagon did not say on Thursday whether there were plans to speed up the measures.

Nader and cancian think it is possible to blame the Houthis, a group of rebels are funded by Iran, plunged into a civil war in Yemen. If that’s the case, “the U.S. will not want to get involved in a shooting war over Yemen,” said Cancian.

It may take days, weeks or months for the army to find the forensic evidence needed to find out who is behind the attack. But if it is found to be Iran, Cancian believes that US forces in the region will take swift action against the Iranian navy. “The U.S. has assets designed to take on Russia and China. Iran’s ships are very exposed. I’d expect the U.S. would be able to sink Iran’s navy in about two days.”

There are, however, problems with military planners. Iran has invested in a fleet of small speedboats capable of attacking large US ships. Military planners describe this as a “first-minute threat”.

“Once the shooting starts, those smaller boats will be the first target of the U.S. Navy.”, said Cancian.

Iran, according to Nader, is currently facing a lot of pressure because of a new wave of US sanctions. “The regime is desperate because the economy is being choked off,” he declared. “Khamenei and Iranian officials did not realize how hard sanctions would hurt oil, petrochemicals, steel and minerals, the core of Iran’s economy.”

This is the second timerecently that Iran has been blamed for attacking international cargo ships. Last month, four ships were hit by landmines off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The landmines are magnetic and are often attached to a ship by an underwater attack team.

Although it is too early to determine this, there is speculation that similar mines were used in this latest attack after being put on the docked tankers.


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