The U.S. and Its Allies Have a Role to Play in Ending Iran’s Maritime War

Aug. 11 2021

In the past two weeks, the Islamic Republic has thrice attacked its enemies at sea, posing a danger to global commerce. Farzin Nadimi explains:

On August 4, personnel from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) boarded the Emirati bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess in international waters near Fujairah and tried to divert it into Iranian waters. The crew managed to foil their plan by disabling the ship, and the boarding party left when a U.S. Navy destroyer approached.

The incident came just five days after a suspected Iranian suicide drone crashed into the Israeli-operated oil tanker Mercer Street near the Omani port of Duqm. Following an unsuccessful attack on July 29, a drone ripped through the ship’s accommodation area on July 30, killing the Romanian captain and a British security guard. Although maritime confrontations involving Iran, Israel, and the Gulf states have been occurring for years, the nature of the latest incidents highlights the urgent need for collective international action.

In the 1980s, Nadimi notes, Tehran similarly threatened international commerce, attacking tankers belonging to nations that had provided support for Baghdad in the ongoing Iran-Iraq War. Countries that have an interest in protecting the freedom of navigation on the high seas have a lesson to learn from those days:

[Then], the initial U.S., French, and British response—expanding their naval presence in the Gulf region—failed to deter Tehran from targeting ships of all flags. Only after the United States increased its show of military resolve and took bold initiative in using special-warfare tactics did Iran back down.

Indeed, international naval forces already exist that can be used to get the ayatollahs to stand down.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism