Iran’s Escalating Tensions is a Dangerous Game
Iran’s Escalating Tensions is a Dangerous Game
Five Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) boats were thwarted in their attempt to capture the tanker, British Heritage. The Iranian boats were met by the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose, outfitted with 30 mm guns, escorting the tanker. After a verbal warning, and the very real possibility of being shortchanged their 72 virgins, the Iranian boats exited the theater. UK officials had previously confirmed that the Montrose was in the region performing a “maritime security role.” Iran’s reckless harassment is intentionally escalating tensions, but to what endgame?
Iran’s build-up of tensions in the region are well documented. Most recently they have been suspected of planting mines and damaging ships in the surrounding waters and ports. Victory Girls Deanna Fisher covers it in this post. The government has been on a crusade of harassment. With the most recent capture effort as a means of retaliation for the Royal Marines seizing a tanker suspected of violating sanctions by carrying Iranian oil to Syria.
Mohsen Rezaee, Iranian Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council tweeted his reaction to the incident, [“During his forty-year history, the Islamic revolution has not been tense in any way of tension, but in response to his or her heart, he did not hesitate to give up a doubt. If the United Kingdom BBCis not banned, it is the duty of the devices responsible for mutual action and the arrest of an English oil tanker.”] Basically, he’s saying give us back our ship, or suffer the reprisals and risks to your own fleet,
انقلاب اسلامی در طول تاریخ چهل ساله خود، در هیچ معرکهای آغازگر تنش نبوده، اما در پاسخ به زورگویان و گردنکشان، تعلل نکرده و تردید به دل راه نداده است. انگلیس اگر #نفتکش_ایرانی را رفع توقیف نکند، وظیفه دستگاههای مسئول، اقدام متقابل و توقیف یک نفتکش انگلیسی است.
— محسن رضایی (@ir_rezaee) July 5, 2019
At a time of already heightened tensions in the region, reports from DC are saying that the US is seeking an international coalition to stop Iranian attacks on shipping in the region. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford, per Business Insider, has said,
“We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab. And so I think probably over the next couple of weeks we’ll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we’ll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that’ll support that,” he said.”
The plan calls for each country to be responsible for patrolling the waters and escorting commercial vessels bearing their flags. However, the US will lead surveillance efforts and provide command and control ships for the mission.
While not increasing their footprint in the region, the US military will certainly have a higher level of visibility both in surface ships and air presence. This presents Iran with increased opportunity to harass and ratchet up small escalation scenarios. How many UAV’s will be lost before it’s impossible to decide it’s the result of someone who “made a big mistake”? Will Americans withstand another incident where our ships are boarded and citizens are held captive, and then mocked in an Iranian parade?
It almost seems as if Iran wants a coalition of Western forces nearby to provide ample opportunity for engagement. Unfortunately this approach will only serve to increase the opportunity for a small interaction to blossom into something much larger. Foreign Affairs surmises the situation as this,
The good news is that the situation is not as bad as it appears. None of the players … seem to really want a war. Iran’s military strategy is to keep tensions at a low boil and avoid a direct confrontation with the United States. Washington struck a tough public posture with its recent troop deployment, but the move was neither consequential nor terribly unusual. If the United States were truly preparing for a war, the flow of military assets into the region would be much more dramatic. The bad news is that a war could still happen. Even if neither side wants to fight, miscalculation, missed signals, and the logic of escalation could conspire to turn even a minor clash into a regional conflagration—with devastating effects for Iran, the United States, and the Middle East.
To what end does this increased tension serve? There are a couple solid theories about Iran’s motivation. Seth J. Frantzman of the Jerusalem Post proffers it’s a test.
Iran is brazen. If the reports are accurate, its attempt on Wednesday to harass the tanker was done openly and done with full knowledge of the presence of the British navy to test the UK’s response and also to see if the US is serious about its international coalition.”
While other sources believe increased tensions are another step in Iran’s path of extortion to continue economic support in the face of President Trump’s tweet about increased economic sanctions,
Iran has long been secretly “enriching,” in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years. Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2019
I, somewhat, agree with PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon. His idea is that this situation affords an opportunity to assist the citizens of Iran to foster a regime change.
I’m talking about giving moral support to the Iranian people against a regime of greedy, fascistic religious fanatics that is oppressing them. This can be done in a whole variety of ways, starting with making them know we care about them and have no interest in talking to or negotiating with their oppressors who just want to play for time.”
My reservation is rooted in our abysmal history of supporting criminals, tyrants, and thugs as qualified leaders. More often than not, we find ourselves battling them in future wars. I am reluctant to swap out one tyrannical government for another. Ideally, we can reach a positive outcome without getting into another war. This situation will be very telling on all fronts.
Featured Image: flicker HMS Montrose License: CC BY-SA 2.0
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