Why this, Why now? The Attacks on Tankers in the Gulf of Oman

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Over the past few weeks I have been watching the situation building in the Persian Gulf, between Iran and its allies, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the various Gulf States, and Israel.

The situation has grown more tense through the threats of the Trump Administration, its increasingly punishing sanctions on Iran, and its deployment of additional Naval and Air Force units. Iran’s economy is on the verge of collapse, and over the past few weeks there have been attacks on tankers in the waters in the Gulf of Oman, which lays just outside the Straits of Hormuz, the vital passage through which passes much of the oil produced in the Middle East for the world markets, especially Asian markets.

I am a naturally suspicious person. When things like this happen I ask “why this, why these people, and why now?” Or in the cases when someone is telling me a story, “why this, why me, why now?” People lie to preachers and priests all,the time, nations and leaders of nations lie all the time. All the characters involved in this drama spin events and intelligence to shape the narrative they want others to believe. That includes the Mullahs of Iran, the Saudi Royal Family, the leaders of the Gulf States, Benjamin Netanyahu Of Israel, and President Trump, and his often conflicted and contradictory administration.

The United States has accused Iran of the attacks on these tankers, there is some evidence that points that way. The Iranians are protesting that their Gulf rivals are conducting these operations in order to frame them. Either, or both explanations are possible. The first two attacks involved very small explosive charges which did minor damage to the first two tankers, most likely placed by divers on the hills of the ships while at anchor. The second set of attacks did significant damage to two tankers. The United States Central Command produced a video of what might be an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Naval Corps boat removing something from one of the recently attacked ships.

But the theory offered by the United States, that these two ships were approached by Iranian craft which placed limpet mines on them, without reporting close encounters with Iranian craft. That would be highly unusual. The explanation by CENTCOM that the craft on the video was removing an unexplored limpet mine from the ship also seems unlikely. The Iranians knew that U.S. warships, equipped with helicopters were near the ships, such a move would be unusual for the Iranians, even the Revolutionary Guards, especially since one of the ships was Japanese owned and the head of the shipping line that owned the ship said that the crew reported an object flying at it. That could have been a rocket, missile, or even an armed drone.

Of course the Iranians could have done any of those things, as could have the Saudis, the Gulf States, the Israelis, or even the Americans.

The rapidity that Secretary of State Pompeo and President Trump labeled the Iranians as the attackers under such opaque circumstances has inadvertently backed the United States into a corner. We now have to prove our allegations. Regardless of who actually conducted the attacks, the refusal of the United States to wait for more forensic evidence of who committed the attack, the quick finger pointing at Iran was unwise. The release of a video which cannot actually identify what was removed from the tanker further obfuscates the situation.

The fact is that in the current situation, it is better to wait for conclusive evidence rather than further ratcheting up the tensions with yet unprovable allegations. There are other parties quite willing to drag the United States and Iran into war to suit their strategic aims.

When I see something like this I think of the Gulf of Tonkin incident which led to a massive escalation of the United States military involvement in Vietnam. But my question is, who is behind it?

I cannot answer that question, however, I can predict that this situation will escalate with very unpredictable and probably tragic consequences. I do hope that I am wrong, but on thing that I know from history, is that leaders in trouble at home, frequently instigate crisis abroad to divert attention from their domestic problems. If that is the case all of the possible subjects, with the possible exception of the Iranians have something to gain from this.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that the Iranians couldn’t be behind these attacks, but they would be low on my motivational index, unless the Revolutionary Guard has chosen to act independently of the Iranian government.

Right now I see more questions than answers, and a war brewing that shouldn’t happen. A war that will bring many changes to our world, and very likely to the life we now know in the United States.

Until tomorrow,


Padre Steve+


Filed under Foreign Policy, History, middle east, Military, national security, News and current events, Political Commentary

10 responses to “Why this, Why now? The Attacks on Tankers in the Gulf of Oman

  1. maryplumbago

    You have such excellent posts. I can’t believe you don’t have more commenters, especially military or ex military people.
    Perhaps they are too conservative to have freer thought…of ever question anything..

    Keep up the good work. Something just doesn’t feel right about this Iranian thing to me.

  2. Again, I have never understood what the pro-war people like Bolton and Pompeo think we would gain from a war with Iran. I honestly don’t have a clue what this is about.

  3. In my opinion it how quickly without any solid prove pointing fingers and fewling tension in the region.

    My thoughts go back to the president George Bush Jr. Era.

    A thorough research by the UN proven otherwise, no chemical weapons, American started a war with Iraq.

  4. I don’t have direct evidence to support my opinion, but I can almost guarantee that Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States or some combination of these three are guilty in this “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to provoke war. All three make money on war and all three have a reason to engage Iran in a war – especially Israel. Israel would love to keep Iran busy in a war which they don’t have to actively fight. It keeps them strong and weakens a country they see as an enemy.

    Good post.

    • padresteve

      That’s why I don’t immediately blame Iran. They have the least to gain in my opinion.

      • You’re exactly right. And, Iran has the most to lose in any military confrontation with Israel or the U.S.

        Though I don’t like the theocratic style of government, they are not the rabid, uncivilized barbarians the corporate media portray them as. Once I read more about their system I have more respect and less fear of it – though I strongly prefer a democracy. That’s why I’d like to see us change to a democracy. Their system allows one particular religion more power, but they also have checks to prevent an embarrassment like trump.

        We’ve lost the right to dictate to anyone what type of government to have. We truly have messed up big time. Thank you for covering this important issue.

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