A new development has arisen in the ongoing saga between the west and Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard captured two British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. This is the latest in a series of aggressive actions taken by Tehran against western nations.
These incidents will likely exacerbate tensions between the United States and Iran, which were already high since President Trump pulled the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. While the European Union has attempted to maintain the agreement without America, this new attack could place these efforts in jeopardy.
Iran Announces Capture of British Tanker
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard announced that it captured a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming that the vessel was not following international maritime regulations. The ship, Stena Empero, was transported to the authorities shortly after.
Later in the day, Reuters reported that Iran had seized another British Liberian flagged-tanker that had taken a northerly turn heading toward Iran. “We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said
Iran’s actions appear to be retaliation for the UK’s seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier in the month. The vessel was suspected to be in violation of European sanctions and transporting oil to Syria. Despite Iran’s protestations, a British court ruled in favor of further detention of the ship.
Tehran’s activities also come a day after the president stated that the US shot down an Iranian drone flying too close to the USS Boxer. Iranian authorities claimed that they did not own the drone and that the aircraft might have belonged to the United States. “I think the drone situation and the Gibraltar ruling were just humiliating to the Iranians, and they decided to act. Their patience has run out,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital, in an interview with CNBC.
Ongoing Conflict with Iran
These seizures are just the latest in a series of escalating aggressive actions between the west and Iran. Earlier in the month, Iranian ships attempted to intercept two British ships in the Strait of Hormuz, but were deterred by a nearby frigate. Days later, Tehran shot down an American drone. The US was poised to carry out a retaliatory strike, but President Trump pulled back at the last minute.
Less than a week later, Iran allegedly attacked two ships, one belonging to Japan and the other to Norway near the coast of Oman. There were no injuries and Iran denied involvement in the assault, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Tehran.
It is difficult to determine Iran’s objective in escalating hostilities. While President Trump has taken a hard line against the regime, he has made it explicitly clear that he does not want a shooting war with Iran. Tehran continues to rattle its saber with threatening rhetoric and aggressive military actions. However, it is not likely that the Iranian regime desires a war either, as it would devastate their country and further destabilize the region.