The explosions were bigger and the damage more extensive. But the message and its means of delivery have some similarities.
Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman caused jitters in global markets and unease across a region that has been bracing for conflict throughout much of the year. As with the earlier attacks on 12 May, news of the latest strikes was again broken by media outlets aligned to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran, who broadcast images of the attacks within minutes of them taking place.
Pictures of both ships ablaze spoke volumes about what is at stake in one of the world’s most strategic waterways, as a regional player withering under ever tightening sanctions stares down a global superpower determined to impose its will.
Even the hint of obstruction in the strait of Hormuz, where ships pass each other like cars on a four lane motorway, is enough to upset oil markets. Frequent, and seemingly random, bombings of tankers, however, takes fears over energy security to levels not seen since the tanker wars, a byproduct of the Iran-Iraq war of the mid-80s, which sunk or damaged 543 ships in nearby waters and caused three years of turmoil in energy markets. By Thursday afternoon, two large shipping companies had suspended bookings from the Gulf oil ports.
The standoff between Iran and the US, which has brewed over the course of Donald Trump’s administration, has typically played out on terra firma. In Iraq, Iran has consolidated its presence at the expense of Washington, which has little to show for its efforts to reorientate the country in its favour. In Lebanon Iran’s near dominance of the political space has taken place at Saudi Arabia’s – and Washington’s – expense.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
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