James J. Marlow
James J. Marlow

It’s now an official maritime war

According to Reserve Major General Amos Yadlin, former executive director of the institute for national security studies and former head of IDF military intelligence, Iran recognises it made a mistake when it attacked the commercial “Mercer Street” petroleum tanker last Thursday.

Tehran have no problem killing Israelis, but the deadly drone attack in the Gulf, murdered two crew members from Britain and Romanian.

Intelligence gathered by Britain, United States and Israel all point to Iran being directly responsible, which prompted Boris Johnson to describe the attack as “outrageous”.

The Romanian foreign minister also said that Bucharest would work with international partners on an appropriate response.

Here is the “thing”. The Mercer Street tanker is Japanese owned, with a Liberian flag, operated by a British company, but managed by an Israeli owned Zodiac Maritime, (aka prominent Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer). So you have to go through three nations, before you reach Israel.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz made all the usual “hard-hitting” threats in the Knesset plenum like “Israel must act against the growing Iranian aggression in the region” and “The Mercer Ship attack is a clear violation of international law.”

But why does Israel have to retaliate? Israel was not attacked. It was Britain and Romania who bore the brunt of the two Iranian drones, which slammed into the vessel off the coast of Oman.

Drones can fly for more than 1500 kilometres and we now know they were launched from either an Iranian vessel or from Iran itself.

It was relatively easy for British, American and Israeli intelligence to ascertain that this was an Iranian attack on a civilian, not military target and Israel should take advantage of the Iranian miscalculation and pursue strong diplomatic, not military steps.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan wrote in a letter to Security Council President T. S. Tirumurti of India, “The Security Council should not sit idly by in the face of such violations by Iran or by the terrorist organizations throughout the region that serve as its proxies.”

Iran strives for nuclear capabilities and is sparking a dangerous arms race. It sows instability through its terrorist militias in Iran, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq and with hundreds of UAV’s, is a major threat to Israel.

The attack on the Mercer Street should be another opportunity for the international community to call out the role that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) play in destabilising the Middle East.

And all this is happening even before the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, known as the hang-man and butcher for sentencing thousands of “dissidents” to death, has even taken office.

Reserve Major General Amos Yadlin called last week’s attack, an “ongoing shadow war” between Iran and Israel. “We don’t know if this attack or that attack is an initiative or a response” he said. “A retaliation – TIC for TAC or TAC for TIC” is how Yadlin described the event at a briefing this week.

It is true there has been many actions and reactions between Iran and Israel but until now, all maritime attacks were without fatalities. This latest move is a game changer, in an all dimensional maritime war that consists of missiles, drones and cyber-warfare. It has been ongoing for several years and is increasing throughout the Middle East.

Tehran realises that the attack was a mistake and they are now denying their involvement. They are also likely to downgrade their “overseas activities” as they seek to re-enter the JCPOA agreement.

But what will not help Iran is Britain’s military “United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations” warning of a “potential hijack” on Tuesday night. According to Reuters who quoted two security maritime sources, Iranian-backed forces were believed to have seized a Panama-flagged asphalt tanker, Asphalt Princess.

Earlier in the day, at least six ships off the coast of the UAE announced around the same time, through their Automatic Identification System trackers, that they had lost control of their steering and all power.

Again Iran was quick to deny any involvement. The British navy confirmed on Wednesday that the hijackers who boarded the vessel had left the ship on Wednesday morning, without elaborating.

My assessment is the Iranian Supreme Leader ordered the militia to stand down as Tehran were unaware their Shia backed militia group would take such drastic action after last week’s drone attack.

But despite all of this, America and Britain are still hopeful that Iran will “be reasonable” and negotiate a JCPOA agreement.

As far as the west are concerned, Iranian nuclear ambitions, entrenchment in Syria, the transfer of weapons and ballistic missiles, the collapse of the Lebanese state and maritime wars are further down the list of priorities. Let’s just get Iran back in the fold again and we can take it from there. Well good luck with that policy is what I say.

About the Author
James J. Marlow is a broadcast journalist and public relations media consultant. He has previously worked for ITN, EuroNews, Reuters, Daily Mail, Daily Express, LBC Radio and Sky News. In addition he has trained and prepared hundreds of business and entertainment people, politicians and Rabbis, for the media, including television, radio and audiences.
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