Let’s first look at the facts:
On June 13, two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The first attack occurred on the Norwegian tanker, The Front Altair. It loaded with the flammable hydrocarbon mixture naphtha from the United Arab Emirates. They radioed for help as it caught fire. A short time later, the Japanese tanker, Kokuka Courageous, loaded with methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was attack and also called for help. Fortunately, there was only one injury reported.
Tankers have between 8 to 12 separate tanks for holding petroleum products. They are structured so a fire in one tank does spread to other tanks. The tankers are being taken to the United Arab Emirates where their cargo will be offloaded.
The attacks occurred in the Gulf of Oman. The US military has stated that the evidence points to Iran. It’s evidence comes from a speedboat which pulled up along side of the Kokuba, and shows one of the crew trying to remove a limpet landmine. These mine can be attached to the side of a tanker by magnets. The US claims that members of Iran’s revolutionary guard were on the speedboat and trying to cover up evidence of the attack’s source.
The British have stated they concur with the US, stating there is high certainty the attack was from Iran. The United Arab Emirates has stated they feel this was the attack was “state sponsored” but importantly, did not point the finger at Iran. Saudi Arabia concurs with the US, and urges the US to take decisive action.
For political reasons, it is easy for Saudi Arabia and UAE to side with US, against Iran. UAE is attempting to buy military equipment from the US. At the same time, the US is making it increasingly difficult EU countries to buy Iranian oil.
Company president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship’s waterline. He called reports of a mine attack “false.” Katada said the crew members also spotted an Iranian naval ship nearby, but didn’t specify whether that was before or after the attacks.
The owners of the Norwegian tanker have not weighed in on this.
Iran has vehemently denied any involvement. Experts in Middle East politics are puzzled, saying Iran would have nothing to gain from an attack on foreign tankers. I agree.
If I had to guess who had the most to gain, I would argue that it would be Saudi Arabia or UAE. They would benefit from an attack on Iran. And maybe UAE is wrong and it wasn’t a foreign government responsible for the attack. If land mines were used, as the US is convinced, attached to the side of the ship, this would spill cargo and certainly put the crew at risk, but it would not sink a tanker. There are plenty of groups which would benefit from increase tensions between the US and Iran, and total US support of Saudi Arabia as the powerhouse of the Middle East.
There is developing a huge divide in the Middle East, along Sunni-Shia lines. A proxy war is rapidly developing in Libya, with Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia on one side (Tobruk government). Middle East policy seems to go along with what Prince MBS of Saudi Arabia wants. Remember Iran and Iraq are both Shia, while Saudi Arabia and UAE are Sunni. By choosing the Sunni group lead by Saudi Arabia, we will undermine our relations with Qatar, Turkey and Iraq.
It is in the interest of the US to reduce tensions rather than choose sides. I go along with the latest Houston Chronicle opinion, “Oil tanker attacks aren’t worth war with Iran.” See link below: