The Attack on Two Oil Tankers in the Gulf of Oman

On the morning of June 13, two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. One was the Front Altair, owned by the Norwegian company Frontline, but flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. It was carrying a cargo of ethanol from Qatar to Taiwan. The second was the Kokuka Courageous of the Japanese company, Kokuka Sangyo, flying the Panamanian flag which was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

A statement by the American Secretary of State for Defense, Pompeo, immediately blamed Iran for the attacks, calling the Islamic Republic a terrorist country which he said would receive a fitting response. At the same time, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif replied that the American accusations are nothing more than a lie put around to increase Iran’s international isolation and to continue the policy of sanctions against Iran.

It’s just what you’d expect, two imperialisms accusing each other without there being any clear evidence on either side. We are not going to go into the jungle of hypotheses of who was responsible since we are trying to stick to the facts and the logic that flows from them.

First of all, it should be noted that this part of the ocean is among the most controlled in the world and the controller is the United States. For years it has had a naval base in Bahrain for its Fifth Fleet. It is thus no coincidence that, shortly after the attacks on the two oil tankers, an American ship, with the support of a jet fighter, was already on the spot filming the presence of an unidentified vessel, which, according to Pompeo, was defusing an unexploded mine from the side of the tanker, Kokuka Courageous. Anything is possible, but for an Iranian terrorist attack to get this far in such controlled waters, with the supposed removal of an unexploded bomb thrown in, is really difficult to believe.

Who would have an interest in attributing such an incident to the Islamic Republic regime? There are certainly quite a few, but three countries in particular are most interested. In this area, that is, in the area that goes from the Strait of Hormuz to the Persian Gulf, the greatest friction is certainly that between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh, both in the war in Syria and on other occasions, has intervened against the Assad regime, but above all against the Iranian troops who supported it, since the chief interest of the Saudis was to stem the advance of Iran, both in the Persian Gulf and towards the Mediterranean (Syria). In addition, in Riyadh's schemes, the fight against Shi’ism has always been the banner under which it sought to demonstrate to the whole area the superiority of Sunni Islam, or rather, of the Saudis themselves with respect to their lesser cousins in other Sunni countries. The aim is to reaffirm their hegemonic role within OPEC and beyond. Therefore, the more isolated and embargoed Tehran remains, the more difficult it is for it to challenge the oil hegemony of Saudi Arabia, which, despite a crisis that has been dragging on for years, remains one of the countries with the largest oil revenues in the world.

Another country that has every interest in taking advantage of the American accusations against Iran is Israel. The Israeli state is experiencing a new, umpteenth honeymoon with the U.S., after a period in which relations between the two have not always enjoyed happy days. Trump has in fact erased the old theory (impossible anyway given the strenuous opposition of Israel) of the two-state solution which, in words at least, the previous administration had stuck to. Trump also sanctioned that Jerusalem would be the sole capital of the state of Israel and that the Golan Heights, conquered in the 1967 Six Day War, should belong definitively to Tel Aviv by right of "occupation". In addition, Israel has also intervened in the Syrian war, not against Assad, but concentrating its countless raids against Tehran’s troops there. The aim is to weaken the Shi’a front that stretches from Iran, through Iraq, to Syria and Lebanon, where Hezbollah, the greatest enemies of Israeli imperialism exists. The latter has, at least in theory, always maintained that the condition for the birth of a Palestinian state is the destruction of the state of Israel.

Many observers have not excluded the possibility that the attack could be the work of the Israeli special forces under the careful supervision of the USA. With regard to the latter, it has the greatest interest in blaming the Iranians for the attacks because the fruits and benefits that fill the basket of sanctions against Iran are enormous and indispensable in this phase of resurgence of the international crisis and the increase in imperialist tensions. Washington is stepping up its fight against Tehran for a number of reasons. Top of the list, we should not forget is the "need" to wipe away the shame of 1979 (the Khomeini revolution), as a result of which American imperialism had to hastily flee from Iran, losing both face and a secure energy supply at a time when the American economy imported 40% of its oil needs, 30% of which came from Iran. Secondly, Iran is part of the gas-oil and military alliance with Russia and China which, to all intents and purposes, represents the opposite war front of both current and future, more intense and certainly more serious, disputes. In addition, the aggression of American imperialism against Iranian imperialism, as already mentioned, is instrumental in favour of Israel as a means of provocation in exchange for a series of concessions that are extremely useful to the Israeli mini-imperialism both for its territorial integrity and its strategic aims in Lebanon, the West Bank and the Golan. Ultimately, for the US, which, despite a series of economic and financial setbacks, seems to have become energy self-sufficient, the alliance with Saudi Arabia, while remaining alive, is less solid than previously due to opposing oil policies.

In conclusion, the attacks in the Gulf of Oman are yet another act of a war that is mounting with geometric progression. The U.S. wants at all costs to control the trade routes of gas and oil to the east, that is to say to the major consumers of raw energy materials, such as China, India and Japan. A good opportunity, therefore, to eliminate a competitor in the Gulf who is also threatening a military intervention. This is a game that goes beyond this single episode, however it may turn out, and that will stimulate responses from the opposing imperialisms of Russia, China and Iran. Hard times of crisis are turning into tragic times. Whether we like it or not, war is just around the corner. Only an international proletarian revolution can stop it, but for this to happen we need the presence of an international revolutionary party – a party which must be as international as the capitalist interests and their imperialist manifestations – like wars – are. In order for these not to remain empty words or repetitive slogans, it is necessary to commit ourselves, to work on building the alternative to this tragic state of affairs, otherwise we will suffer yet more barbarism from a capitalist beast that, even if it does not die, is ready to embrace total destruction.

FD

15 June 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

Comments

There seems to be a much more pessimistic perspective regarding timescales for getting the necessary Party up and running. At one point the idea was we had a fairly lengthy period ahead of gradual capitalist decline allowing for a maturation of a proletarian response. Recently we had Aurora talking about a couple of decades with regard to the climate tragedy, but this piece seems to be talking about imminent war. Is this to be understood as generalised imperia list war or rather, one more entry on the lengthy list of local wars? Given that the concluding paragraph specifically talks about Russian, Chinese and Iranian responses, the impression is that a world conflict is looming and the proletariat is not responding...yet.

The perspective has not changed but this is another step down the road to a wider conflict - nothing more, nothing less.

I don't think the ICT has made any absolute statements about war or revolution being light years away or imminent, but the wording of war being "just around the corner" made me think that the disaster scenario could be very close. Of course, some environmentalists also talk about human extinction within the decade. We just need Celine Dion now and the Titanic song...