Even though the US is constantly sailing warships near Iran’s coast, the presence of two Iranian military vessels in the southern Atlantic Ocean is grabbing headlines in the Western media and is being portrayed as some sort of provocation.
Over the past few days, US officials have been claiming that the Iranian ships are carrying weapons that will be delivered to Venezuela. On Thursday, Iranian officials confirmed that the warships were in the south Atlantic Ocean and planned to cross it but did not disclose to nature of the cargo or where the ships were bound for.
Although it’s not clear if Iran is sending the ships to Venezuela, the two countries are natural trading partners since they are both under crushing US economic sanctions. This growing trade relationship angers Washington, and the US has even stolen Iranian cargo that was bound for Venezuela.
Last year, then-President Trump said the US “seized” four tankers that were carrying Iranian gasoline bound for Venezuela. The ships were forced to dock in the US and discharge their cargo. The US likely seized the vessels by threatening to take away the insurance or registration from the owners.
Stealing Iranian cargo is not unique to the Trump administration. It was recently revealed that the US sold off $2 billion barrels of Iranian oil it stole from a tanker that was anchored off the UAE in February.
Ships carrying Iranian cargo are also constantly targeted by Israel in the Middle East. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Israel attacked at least a dozen ships that were bound for Syria since 2019, most of which were Iranian or carrying Iranian oil.
Considering the extreme measures the US and its allies have taken to disrupt Iranian shipments, sending warships to deliver cargo makes sense for Tehran. But it’s still not clear if that’s what these vessels are doing. If it is just a display of Iran’s naval capabilities, the fact that US officials are calling it a provocation is laughable considering the US military presence in the Persian Gulf.