By Payman Yazdani

Intel. Community reluctant to accept U.S. hypothesis aiming to boost its military presence in ME: Zaccara

June 16, 2019

Referring to hasty US accusations against Iran after the suspicious attacks on oil tankers in Oman Sea, Qatar University research assistant says international community is reluctant to accept US hypothesis aiming to boost its military presence in the Middle East.

While the Japanese Prime Minister was visiting Iran after 4 decades and many expected even more reduction of the tensions in the region due his visit, in another suspicious and provocative move two large tankers were hit by explosions in the Sea of Oman on Thursday, a move that can intensify the tensions more than before.

Following the attack, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hastily accused Iran of carrying out the attacks without providing any evidence to back up his accusation.

In this regard, Iran rejected US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's anti-Iran accusations, saying the suspicious nature of the recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman is "not funny or ridiculous but alarming".

To know more about the issue we reached out to Dr. Luciano Zaccara, research assistant professor in Qatar University.

Q: The US administration has hastily accused Iran of being behind the attacks on two oil tankers in Oman Sea. How do you assess validity of the accusations?

A: After one month of the previous incident in Fujairah port, which so far has not been clarified, and with the lack of proper evidence apart from a released video which actually is not demonstrating anything, I believe the US administration is rushing too much to reach the conclusions that only Iran can be behind those attacks. It is evident that the current US government, mainly Bolton and Pompeo, is trying to make a case against Iran, with the objective to justify the withdrawal from the JCPOA, and in order to increase the military presence in the Persian Gulf, engaging all the Arabian Peninsula states in the MESA (Arab NATO), with the aim to contain Iran. However, the international community is reluctant to accept the American hypothesis. Simply, the false accusation against Iraq regarding its military nuclear program that justified the 2003 invasion is a clear precedent of the failure of the preventive war doctrine, and nobody in the region would be interested in starting a new war just because the US intelligence is pointing to Iran.

Q: Is it rational for Iran to commit such an action, while the Japanese PM is visiting Iran?

A: The attacked vessels were related to Japan, and one of them was transporting goods coming from Qatar, one of the few states that are actually in good terms with Iran in the region. As mentioned by most of the analysts in the recent days, it would be ‘shooting on its on foot’ if Iran conducted such an action in the middle of Abe’s meetings with Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran is the country that would lose the most if this incident proved to be done by any Iranian affiliated group, and it would provoke the total isolation from the international community, something that Rouhani’s government has been trying to prevent since he assumed office in 2013.

Q: In fact who is the biggest beneficiary of the provocative incidents taking place in the region that threatens world energy security and route? Can any instability in the region affect EU interests?

A: I don’t believe any regional actor would be benefited from the increasing instability of the Persian Gulf, despite the fact that the oil price increase can definitively benefit most of the producing countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates. A war atmosphere will certainly harm all the economies in the region, mainly Qatar and Iran, but also the rest of the PGCC states. I wouldn’t dismiss the hypothesis that a non-state actor may be linked to this incident that can only spark tension and a possible war. On the other hand, neither of the oil consuming countries, including the EU, Japan, India, China, and Korea, are happy with this situation that may disrupt their oil purchases. Still trying to escape from recession and just ending the crisis started in 2007, the EU is the region that would suffer the most with the disruption of oil supply or the dramatic increase of the oil price.

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