Iran Tensions Escalate: Sabotaging Ships, US Pulls Some Staff Out of Iraq
Iran tensions appear to be escalating. Washington ordered all non-emergency staff out of Iraq on Wednesday, in what they called a move over “safety concerns.” The removal of staff comes after Iran or its proxies allegedly used explosive charges to sabotage 4 ships off the coast of the UAE.
According to AP, four commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were sabotaged with explosives. The UAE stated that no harmful chemicals or fuels were leaked. Two of the ships were oil tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia. One was a Norwegian vessel, the other a ship flagged as UAE. The Saudis stated that their ships “sustained significant damage.”
“Since early May, there is an increased possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take action against U.S. and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure, after recently threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz. Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, or the Persian Gulf.” US Maritime Administration
As we previously reported, the US recently sent military force to the region. Iran claims President Trump listened to “the mustache” (John Bolton) and would get war in return for doing so. Are the Iran tensions escalating?
@realDonaldTrump : You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead. That’s what happens when you listen to the mustache. Good luck in 2020!— Hesameddin Ashena (@hesamodin1) May 14, 2019
However, the Ayatollah downplayed that idea slightly:
Iranian nation’s definite option is resistance against U.S. and in this confrontation, U.S. will have to withdraw. This is not a military confrontation because no war is to happen. We don’t seek a war nor do they. They know a war wouldn’t be beneficial for them. pic.twitter.com/LVwlidej0X— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 14, 2019
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) stated that an all-out war against Iran would only be justified if they
“struck out militarily against us or against our allies in the region, then I would certainly expect a devastating response against Iran.”
Although one Deputy Commander of coalition forces stated that there is no increase in threats from the radical Islamist regime, CENTCOM disputed that:
“Recent comments from [Operation Inherent Resolve’s] Deputy Commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region. U.S. Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria. As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq.”
Capt. Bill Urban, CENTCOM spokesman
Escalating Iran Tensions – Non- Emergency Personnel Ordered Out of Iraq
Non-emergency US personnel both at the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US consulate in Irbil in Iraq were ordered out on Wednesday. The move came days after US citizens were warned not to travel to Iraq due to the increased danger of kidnapping or other attacks. They have temporarily suspended visa services.
Iran, which is led by Shiite Muslim clerics, commands significant influence among certain political and military quarters in Iraq, backing clerics and politicians as well as some of the Shiite militias the United States once openly fought. More recently, the two have formed part of an uneasy alliance in Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is among Washington’s largest outposts in the world. It was unclear Wednesday how many personnel would be leaving, or when they would return.
The United States also has about 5,000 military personnel stationed in Iraq, after years-long battles to defeat Islamist militants there. With the Islamic State officially defeated, there have been growing calls among Iraqi lawmakers for U.S. troops to depart.Mercury News
Is war inevitable in this scenario? No. But it is a powderkeg at this point, and it would only take one stupid move on their part to light the fuse.
“We don’t want to rule 80 million Iranians, we want 80 million Iranians to be able to govern themselves…Iran should try to rejoin the civilized world and stop supporting terrorism and trying to overthrow the governments of so many of its neighbors…
War is never inevitable. War is always the product of human choices.” Senator Tom Cotton R-AR
Featured photo: the Norwegian ship Andrea Victory shows damage at the waterline (handout)