Two Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman

Pompeo blames Iran, declares attacks 'terrorism'

Two tankers traveling through the Gulf of Oman were attacked on Thursday, forcing the crews to abandon the ships, and which left one of the ships on fire. One of the sailors was reported “slightly injured” in the incidents.

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. They departed from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The ships were apparently hit with sea mines, potentially magnetic mines. 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.

Pompeo’s declaration of Iran’s guilt was based chiefly on similar incidents happening in mid-May. John Bolton and Pompeo blamed Iran then, and since this was the same sort of thing, they blame Iran now. The problem is, they have offered no evidence Iran was responsible for the first incidents, let alone today’s, and are just tying them all together. Pompeo rattled off a list of things to blame Iran for, including multiple incidents that were done by Yemen’s Houthis, a rocket fired in Iraq that was never convincingly blamed on anyone, and an Afghanistan bombing that clearly was nothing to do with Iran at all.

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 is visiting Iran right now, trying to reduce tensions. Abe has also declared Iran to have no intention to make nuclear arms. This would be a preposterous move for Iran to even consider.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif declared that “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe” what happened, noting that the attacks were timed to when Japanese PM Abe Shinzo was meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader.

Abe’s meeting was also a subject of Pompeo’s comments, as Pompeo falsely accused Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of having refused the meeting with Abe. In reality, the meeting took place, and Khamenei simply rejected a proposal to trade messages with President Trump.

Pompeo went on to declare the attack on a Japanese ship during Abe’s Iran visit as an Iranian “insult to Japan.” This all rests on the US assumption of Iran’s guilt, and as Zarif points out, makes the attack look suspiciously like it might have been carried out for the benefit of the anti-Iran narrative.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.