'The illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibralter by the British Navy last Friday is fast acquiring farcical character. Britain acted at the behest of the US; in turn, the US probably acted at the behest of the ‘B Team’. So far, only one top US official has expressed joy over the incident — National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is of course the member-secretary of the B Team. None of the other three members of the B Team — Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu or either of the two Gulf Crown Princes (bin Salman and bin Zayed)) has waded into the controversy.
The original intention behind the Anglo-American operation was clearly to provoke the Iranians into some retaliatory action. But Iran refused to be provoked and is biding its time. Had Iran acted impulsively or rashly, a military conflagration might have ensued, which would have provided just the alibi for a large-scale US military strike at Iranian targets. Even Article 5 of the NATO Charter on collective security might be invoked. The B Team has been angling for just such a window of opportunity. The US defence secretary’s last visit to Brussels was a mission to rally NATO support for a military strike against Iran.
Now, Iran is savvy enough to figure out the Anglo-American game plan. Tehran is indignant and has warned of consequences, but all in good time. Since Iran refused to be provoked, Britain made a false allegation that Tehran made an abortive attempt to “intimidate” a British oil tanker. Tehran, of course, furiously denied the allegation. Meanwhile, there is a parallel move by the US to assemble a ‘coalition of the willing’ ostensibly to protect oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, an Iranian waterway. Therein hangs a tale.
The false allegation by Britain has been promptly seized by the US Navy to press ahead with its master plan to establish military escorts for shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. General Mark Milley, who has been nominated to become chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has bene quoted as saying on July 11 during a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington that the Pentagon is working to put together a coalition “in terms of providing military escort, naval escort to commercial shipping.” In his words, “I think that that will be developing over the next couple weeks.” Milley characterised the project as an assertion of a fundamental principle of “freedom of navigation”, a coinage Washington uses arbitrarily in its “Indo-Pacific” rule book.'
Read more: America Pours “Oil into Fire” in Persian Gulf. Strategic Waterways. Control of Strait of Hormuz
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