Following attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June (detailed in another Unshackled article found here) the ‘Iranian Situation’ has developed further.
On Saturday Britain offered to return the seized Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, if Tehran could guarantee that the oil would not go to Syria. The tanker was initially seized off the coast of Gibraltar just over a week ago as the British government suspected its destination was Syria. Should the tanker have been allowed through, it would have violated strict European Union (EU) sanctions.
Britain’s offer has not been at random, its an attempt to ease growing tensions between them and Iran. Tensions that have only escalated following the Gulf of Oman incidents, Iran’s increasing uranium stockpile and the US’s accusations.
The offer comes just after Iranian ships unsuccessfully attempted to seize a British oil tanker, the British Heritage, in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. The ships are believed to have been manned by the Iranian IRGC and ordered the tanker to change course and stop in Iranian waters.
However, the British Navy ship the HMS Montrose got between the tanker and the Iranian ships and issued a verbal warning to withdraw. US officials and British officials hold different accounts of the amount of Iranian ships involved, with the former saying five and the latter three.
Maritime security in the region is needed now more than ever and the UK has recognised this by deciding to send a second warship to the region, HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, which is estimated to arrive in the Gulf region next week.
The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford has also recognised this by stating on Tuesday that the US and its allies were working on putting together a coalition that ensures the existence of freedom of navigation in the region amid what the US says are threats from Iran.
But, unfortunately, the developments have not stopped there. Recently, Western Security officials have claimed that Iran has launched an initiative in Africa that’s apart of Iran’s efforts to establish a global terror network. The objective of this African initiative is to form “sleeper cells” that will attack Western targets should tensions continue to escalate.
Following this new evidence, many Western governments have responded by ordering that their bases within Africa and the Middle East strengthen their defences and be alert.
Its believed that Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds force, the elite section of the IRGC in charge of overseas operations, is responsible for the establishment of this new network that already includes parts of Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.
It’s believed this push by the IRGC to expand its global terror network began in the period directly after it signed a nuclear treaty in 2015 under then President Obama. This indicates that Iran might not be the most trustworthy member of any treaty it signs in the future, something all countries should consider.
The next few months are going to be critical for the region. Iranian officials and its President, Hassan Rouhani, have stated that Britain will pay for its decision to seize the
Grace 1, which means further aggressive and potentially fatal ‘incidents’ are a likely possibility in the near future.