So navigating off the Reuters report and others like it in the mainstream media today, there are some obvious takeaways and some big questions.
Right now, the U.S. and the Saudis are pointing fingers at the Iranians. Perhaps — but it begs the question, why? Tensions in the region, thanks to the highly inflammatory rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration, are already dangerously high.
National Security Adviser and longtime proponent of war with Iran John Bolton is predictably pushing Donald Trump to, for lack of a better phrase, make war on Iran.
The Saudis, who view Iran as a bitter regional rival, are pushing for the same thing. They would love for the U.S. to use its military against its enemy.
Donald Trump has been in the middle up until this point. He profits personally from his business dealings with the Saudis, particularly on real estate transactions, so he wants to maintain that warm and profitable relationship. Perhaps in keeping with that premise, Trump invited Bolton to join the team as a warning signal to the Iranians?
Oddly, Trump seems somewhat reluctant to engage Iran militarily. He seems to think he can create the conditions and set the stage for war with Iran and control the factors that might lead to war without going to war. It is a dangerous game that could lead to catastrophic consequences.
The facts as reported below would seem to indicate fairly sophisticated military capabilities, ones normally associated with a nation-state. Based on the economic and military realities of the region, the three most likely suspects are Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
Israel gets thrown in only because they do have the military technology, they are in the region, and they do share the Saudis’ fear and contempt of Iran. However, striking Japanese or Norwegian shipping vessels is not the type of thing the Israelis are likely to engage in.
Iran too has the necessary military technology but stands to gain little by damaging or destroying Japanese or Norwegian ships. There is no economic or military logic to support that. To the contrary, with U.S. sanctions constraining the Iranian economy, it would be in Iran’s interest to maintain good relations with Japan, Norway, and any other country willing to maintain trade.
Saudi Arabia does, however, seem to see its strategy of a U.S. war on Iran furthered by these events. Would the Saudis coordinate these strikes? It bears noting that none of their assets were damaged. Of the most likely suspects, the Saudis to seem to have the most to gain.
Right now the U.S. and the Saudis are pointing fingers at the Iranians and the Iranians are pointing fingers at the U.S. and the Saudis. The odds are that the Iranian argument may be stronger.
About author Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.