Following Wednesday’s explosives attack on an Iranian cargo ship, the Shahr E Kord, in the Mediterranean, onlookers were no doubt reminded of a similar attack on an Israeli ship, the MV Helios, in the Gulf of Oman last month, and two previous instances of attacks, also in the Gulf of Oman, targeting Saudi, Emirati, Norwegian and Japanese tankers in May and June 2019; the latter three attacks being blamed by the West on Iran, the former Mediterranean attack being blamed by Iran on Israel – a claim backed up by a report in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, where US officials outlined at least 12 Israeli attacks on Iranian ships transporting oil to sanctions-beset Syria since 2019, when the current period of tensions in the Persian Gulf first begun.
Indeed, the attack on the Shahr E Kord comes less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden launched airstrikes in Syria targeting Iran-aligned groups, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), both being present in the Arab country on an official anti-terrorist mission at the invitation of the Syrian government; airstrikes which were subsequently followed by a rocket attack on the Ain al-Assad US airbase in Iraq, previously targeted by an Iranian missile strike in response to the murder of Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a US Drone strike on Baghdad International Airport in January 2020.
The noticeable lack of condemnation from Western leaders in response to last week’s Mediterranean attack however, is in stark contrast to their response to the previous 2019 Gulf of Oman attacks, blaming them on Iran despite there being little to no evidence of Tehran’s involvement; and the June attack of that year in particular, almost leading to a full-scale US-led war with Iran, one that had the potential for worldwide consequences, and was apparently only halted by then-US President Donald Trump a mere ten minutes before it was due to begin.
To understand this differing approach to these attacks, depending on whether the blame is being placed on either Tehran or Tel Aviv, one must look at the wider geopolitical situation in the Middle East and its connection to both Washington and the wider US-NATO hegemony.
In 1979, the Islamic Revolution saw the anti-American and anti-Zionist Ayatollah Khomeini come to power in Iran, deposing the Western-friendly Shah Pahlavi, who himself had seized power in the Middle Eastern country following a 1953 Western-backed coup, launched by the CIA and MI6 in response to then-Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh’s nationalization of his country’s vast oil reserves.
The anti-imperialist ideology of the newly formed Islamic Republic has seen Tehran remain a thorn in the side of the US-NATO hegemony for more than 42 years on; most recently seen with Iranian intervention in Syria, at the request of the government of Bashar al-Assad, playing a key role in repelling US-backed terrorists seeking to implement a regime change operation launched by the CIA in response to Damascus’ 2009 refusal to allow a Western-supported oil pipeline to be built through the Arab Republic.
This is in stark contrast to the West’s relationship with Israel, established in 1948 in line with the 1917 London-authored Balfour Declaration which called for the formation of a Zionist State in the Middle East; a relationship that has been one of unyielding Western support for the past 73 years, including fighting the Iraq war on Israel’s behalf, and the launching of the 2011 Syrian regime change project also being partly due to the Arab Republic’s long time opposition to Tel Aviv – along with Damascus’ aforementioned pipeline refusal.
It is also the reason why last week’s Mediterranean attack has so far drawn complete silence from Western leaders, a far cry from their response to the June 2019 Gulf of Oman attack, blamed on Iran, which almost sparked a global conflict.