An Incredible Retaliation – Britain Seized An Iranian Ship, So Iran Return The Favour And Seized Two British Ships

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Jul 21 2019
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Two weeks earlier (July 4), Britain’s Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker carrying more than 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory. Britain accused the ship of transporting oil to Syria, hence had violated European Union sanctions. Officials initially said the seizure happened on orders from the United States.


The British government has said that the vessel will be released only if Iran could prove it was not breaching EU sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. The tanker – Grace 1 – was subsequently received an extended 30-day detention on Friday by a court in Gibraltar. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed the seizure as nothing but “piracy”.


So what did the Iranian do? The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in retaliation, seized a British-flagged tanker – Stena Impero – while the ship was sailing in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Friday. Iran said the British oil tanker was seized for “violating international regulations” – crashed into an Iranian fishing boat and ignored distress call. The ship had been taken to Bandar Abbas Port.

UK Britain Tanker Stena Impero

However, none of the 23 crew aboard Stena Impero is British citizens. Stena Bulk, the owner of the seized British tanker, said the vessel’s crew members are of Indian, Filipino, Russian and Latvian nationalities. Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of the local Ports and Maritime Organisation, said all the 23 crew are to remain on board while an investigation is carried out.


But Stena Impero was not the only British tanker seized by the Iranian in what appeared to be an incredible bold retaliation against the United Kingdom. A second tanker – Mesdar – was temporarily stopped by Iranian armed personnel who boarded the ship, but was later allowed to continue its voyage with a warning. Mesdar, which sails under a Liberian flag, is owned by a British company – Norbulk Shipping.


Henry Rome, an Iran analyst with Eurasia Group, said – “This is an extraordinarily brazen step here. This is taking tankers under way, then forcing them into Iranian waters, and I think it’s a highly provocative step. It’s something the Iranians tried to do before, when they tried to nab another British ship on the 10th of July but British warships stopped them.”

Iran Seized UK Britain Tanker Stena Impero and Mesdar

Indeed, on Saturday, AP reported that a powerful 12-member council in the Iran – Guardian Council – admitted that the country’s seizure of a British oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz was in response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian super tanker two weeks earlier. The rare comments are seen as views of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, concerned by the seizure of the two ships by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz, has warned Iran of “serious consequences” if it does not release a British-flagged oil tanker it seized. However, he ruled out “military options” and said the U.K. is attempting to resolve the situation in Tehran and with international partners.


As it turned out, Bandar Abbas is the location of the main base of the Iranian Navy. Hence, any military options against the port to threaten Iran will definitely spark fireworks. The seizing of the “Stena Impero” increases the tensions between Iran and the West, which began rising in May, about a year after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.

UK Britain Tanker Stena Impero - Seized by Iranian Military

Iran Seized UK Britain Tanker Stena Impero and Mesdar - Map

Iranian’s aggressiveness has provided justification for the U.S. to deploy 1,000 troops to the Middle East in June. Now, Saudi Arabia has consented to the hosting of U.S. military forces in the kingdom to boost regional security and stability. This will be the first deployment of its kind since 2003, when American forces withdrew from Saudi after a 12-year presence and two US-led wars with Iraq – toppling dictator Saddam Hussein.


But in the case of the confiscation of the British oil tanker “Stena Impero”, Trump declined to say whether the moves by Iran crossed a “red line” or how the U.S. might respond. The Commander-in-Chief only told reporters that the U.S. would work with the British on the tanker situation. The U.S. military said unarmed surveillance aircraft were monitoring the situation in the Strait of Hormuz.


Speaking of drones, coincidentally, the seizure of the British ships happens a day after Trump told reporters that the USS Boxer shot down a drone belonging to Iran, after it came within 1,000 yards of the Navy ship and ignored “multiple calls to stand down.” However, Iran rubbished the US president’s announcement, even joked that the U.S. military might have had shot down its own drone.

Iran Drone Screenshot Of USS Boxer

Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said – “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own drone by mistake! Unlike Trump’s delusional and groundless claim, all drones belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one mentioned by the US president, have returned to their bases safe and sound.”


To prove that Iranian drones had indeed returned to base, Iran has released video footage that it says debunks the earlier claim made by the United States that a US warship downed an Iranian drone near the Gulf. Apparently, a footage broadcasted by an Iranian state TV showed the date and time which indicated the Iranian drone was still filming when it was supposed to have been downed.


But analysts and reporters on board the USS Boxer said the images are inconclusive and offered explanations that some of the shots of the US ship could have been taken from Iranian helicopters seen nearby, not the drone. in June, the Commander-in-Chief  said the U.S. was “cocked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran for downing U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk.

US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk - Drone

US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk - Shot Down Map

In that incident, Iran claimed the US$180 million American drone “violated” its territorial airspace, while the U.S. said the missile fire was “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. Trump said the Iranian “had made a very big mistake” and warned that America “will not stand” for the shooting – suggesting an imminent military strike.


Stunningly, President Trump cancelled a planned military strike just 10 minutes before they were to be launched. And here’s the president’s tweet as to why he chickened out at the last minute – “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”


Iran analyst Henry Rome said – “I don’t think Trump has the appetite at this point to commit militarily. He made some interesting comments on his way to Marine One, underlying that this was not a U.S. ship and implying our interests were not as directly affected as the British are. I would imagine a more strong language coming out of the U.S and not a whole lot else.”

Donald Trump Anti Iran

While it’s true that the confiscation of the British oil tanker “Stena Impero” was a “tit-for-tat retaliation”, the Iranian’s bold action was clearly done to test water – to see the reactions from the U.S. after Trump called off a military strike against Iran at the eleventh hour. Iran wanted to see how much damage it can do to the Strait of Hormuz, where 25% of global oil production passes through the narrow passage.


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The Brits and Yankees better think twice if they are thinking of attacking Iran. With the backing of The Dragon and Polar Bear, Iran is not not easy to be occupied as Iraq and Libya.
Besides Iran is a much bigger country in term of land mass and population.
The Ayatollahs can easily mobilize 1 million potential martyrs to fight the invading forces by just issuing to each of them a key to open the gate to heaven where 72 virgins are awaiting .
Saddam Hussein had learn ed the lesson back in the 80s.

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