The alleged attack on four oil tankers in the Middle East is a squirrely story. The Wall Street Journal reported late on Monday that, according to an initial U.S. assessment, “Iran was likely behind the attack” on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels damaged over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz.
The U.S. official, who declined to be identified, didn’t offer details about what led to the assessment or its implications for a possible U.S. response. Typical. Then we have the standard Trump fare.
Donald Trump has reportedly been presented with a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter the so-called Iranian threat, The New York Times (aka NY Slimes) reports.
Naturally, Trump, in a wash-rinse-repeat manner, called this fake news. He said there’s currently no plans to send troops; but, if he did, it would be far more than 120,000.
Reports indicate “significant damage to the structures of the two vessels” — identified by shipping monitors as the Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah. Other tankers were also reported damaged in the UAE’s Fujairan port.
But, if this was real sabotage, why attack empty oil tankers? And what a hokey looking fire, mostly on the water.
A reporter covering the tanker story went out on the water and pulled alongside one of the vessels. There was no apparent damage.
According to Michael Frodl, a Washington, D.C.-based maritime security and intelligence consultant who runs C-Level Maritime Risks, military-level training and precision was needed to attack four ships at once. He said a limpet mine may have been used on the vessels, or a remote-controlled underwater drone.
But, if it was commando-level skills needed to carry this out, why didn’t they do any real harm? In what cartoon world does a ship (Andre Victoria) stay floating out at sea with a gaping hole well below the water line? Just enough damage for show. Then we learn from ship manager Thome Ship Management that this Aft peak tanker location is empty or used to carry water, so is contained. Did the three stooges carry out this “sabotage”?
Arguably, whoever did this was making a gesture, not inflicting real harm. If the Iranians did it, it was like the scene in the Godfather where the director they wanted to intimidate wakes up with the horse head in his bed. See what we can potentially do, see how sleuth-like we are. This actually might make some sense as part of Iran’s forward defense tactics.
Update: Russ’ Takeaway: I am really leaning towards this being an Iranian operation, and quite brilliant at that. It was conducted in two dispersed locations. It demonstrated Iran’s “forward defense” to the emirates and Saudi Arabia and the ability to appear out of nowhere to leave horse’s heads. The action was more like a ghost like “Kilroy was here” message or tap on the shoulder than sabotage. It should give the Saudis and their Emirate allies serious pause for reflection that they will pay a heavy price. The western media fumbled around coming up a narrative to explain it.
Of note, there are a half million Iranians in UAE and only about one million actual Emiratis. This poses a major 5th column issue for UAE.
Later, the U.S. stated that their best theory was that it was Iranian proxies — either the Houthis or Iraqi Shiites. But do those parties have underwater commando units in this region? The Houthis are at war with Saudi Arabia, with no love lost. They would have destroyed the Saudi tankers and left the neutral tanker alone — not left a horse’s head.
WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) – U.S. national security agencies now believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have attacked four tankers off the United Arab Emirates rather than Iranian forces themselves, a U.S. official familiar with the latest U.S. assessments said on Tuesday.
The official said possible perpetrators might include Houthi rebels in Yemen and Iran-backed Shi’ite militias based in Iraq but said Washington did not have hard evidence on who sabotaged the four vessels,
The final theory is that this was false-flag light, an implied threat to Iran that more severe false flags can be carried out.
Another consideration would be Iran’s reaction to a full U.S. mobilization in the region. With a full-on sanction — 120,000 plus troops, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier group, four B-52 bombers, F-15C Eagle and F-35A Lightning II strike aircraft and USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock full of MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile systems headed to the scene — would the War Party in Iran be tempted to score a Pearl Harbor pre-emptive raid before they arrive? In this raid, real destruction would take place probably all over Saudi Arabia. Certain parties would love that.
Meanwhile, news appears to be developing involving another “attack” on Saudi oil. Saudi officials claim a pipeline and pumping station were attacked by drones on Tuesday near Rihadh, Reuters TV reports.