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article imageOp-Ed: US official claims Iran to blame for sabotage of Saudi ships

By Ken Hanly     May 13, 2019 in Politics
A pair of Saudi oil tankers have been reported to have been sabotaged off the coast of the UAE. However, what happened is not at all clear.
There has been a US military buildup in the area
The US has been citing unspecified threats by Iran in the area widely repeated in media such as the Wall Street Journal earlier this month: "U.S. intelligence showed that Iran has made plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, triggering a decision to reinforce the American military presence in the region in an effort to deter any possible moves by Tehran, U.S. officials said Monday."
A convenient excuse to launch attacks against Iran?
While officials are only saying there was sabotage. There has been no elaboration on what exactly happened to the ships or how.
A Reuters report appears to be inconsistent. It says four ships were sabotaged but then says there were two and describes them: "The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not describe the nature of the attack or say who was behind it. The UAE on Monday identified the vessels as two crude oil tankers owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri, a UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge and a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker.The owner of the Norwegian vessel, Thome Ship Management, said the vessel was “struck by an unknown object”. Footage seen by Reuters showed a hole in the hull at the waterline with the metal torn open inwards."
In spite of lack of knowledge of incident US blames Iran
Reuters dutifully reports: "A U.S. official familiar with American intelligence said Iran was a leading candidate for having carried out the attacks but the United States does not have conclusive proof.“It fits their M.O. (modus operandi),” said the official on condition of anonymity, suggesting Iran’s statements distancing itself from the incident were an attempt “to muddy the waters.”
Notice the careful wording. The US does not have "conclusive proof". This implies that they have some proof. However, no proof is offered just that such an action whatever it was is consistent with Iran's modus operandi. Yet there is not even any clear idea of what happened. The statement also claims that Iranian denials are attempts to "muddy the waters". The whole statement by the anonymous US official is nothing but an attempt to smear Iran and provide an excuse for a US reaction.
Reports of explosions at UAE port probably false
Several reports claim that there were explosions at a UAE report including this one: "Powerful explosions have been reported in the Emirati port of al-Fujairah, where seven oil tankers are said to have caught fire. The blasts took place early on Sunday morning, according to the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen television channel, which reported the development hours later. It said the seven oil tankers were completely burnt and that firefighters were still trying to extinguish the blaze."
Iran felt compelled to deny that it had anything to do with the explosions and suggested they could have been done by saboteurs from a third country interested in creating an unstable situation. However, the UAE has denied that the explosions even took place.
The situation in the area is becoming increasingly dangerous and the US actions have upped tensions. It is possible that there could be outright conflict created if the US tries to punish Iran for something that they may not have done. There is even the possibility of a false flag operation or some third party such as the Saudis or Israel trying to get the US to attack Iran. This could be encouraged by hawks within the Trump administration.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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