False flag operation

August 4, 2021 - 20:50

TEHRAN – With the Vienna nuclear talks between Iran and the West hitting a deadlock, things seem to be deteriorating to a dangerous escalation by the West against Iran, which refused to bow to U.S. extravagant demands during six rounds of talks. 

Since Tuesday afternoon, the Persian Gulf region has been abuzz with dubious, unconfirmed reports of unspecified incidents allegedly involving several vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman. Till now, there are no solid reports explaining what happened on the ground, with the countries directly involved in the issue are either silent or questioning the account of the Western press regarding the situation in the Gulf of Oman.

The UAE, where incidents are reported to have happened off its coast, has been dead silent and has refrained from commenting on the issue. On the other side, Iran, which has been accused of playing a role in the drama, said there have been no incidents taking place in the Gulf of Oman and that all Western press reports are a fuss about nothing. 

While Western media outlets were busy publishing weird stories about possible scenarios such as hijack, attack, and kidnap, Iran said nothing unusual took place on its doorstep in the Gulf of Oman. Instead, Iran accused the West of staging a propaganda war with the purpose of extracting concessions from it ahead of a possible resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna. 

The Iranian embassy in the UK even warned of an unfair game intended to mislead the public. “According to our direct links in the Persian Gulf region, no information on new incidents for any merchant ship in the region is confirmed so far. Misleading the public all around the world for diplomatic gain in New York is not fair game,” the embassy said on Twitter. 

This “game” came on the heels of another attack in the Gulf of Oman blamed on Iran. Last week, an Israeli-operated oil tanker came under a mysterious attack in which two civilians, a Romanian and a Briton, were killed. 

The Israeli-operated ship Mercer Street was attacked off the coast of Oman last week on Thursday while traveling from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah. The oil tanker, managed by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. Zodiac Maritime said two crewmen, a British and Romanian national, died in the attack.

“With profound sadness, we understand the incident onboard the M/T Mercer Street on 29 July, 2021 has resulted in the deaths of two crew members on board,” the UK-based Israeli company said in a statement on Friday afternoon, a day after the attack.

Israel, the U.S., and the UK were quick to blame the attack on Iran without presenting any evidence. They also vowed to give a collective response to Iran even though Iran roundly denied any involvement. But the trio of Tel Aviv, Washington, and London faced difficulties convincing the world that Iran had violated international law. 

They sought to take the issue to the UN Security Council. Also, they urged their allies to take a stand against Iran. In continuation of this campaign, a British group called United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported Tuesday that a vessel near the UAE port of Fujairah was affected by a non-piracy incident. Then The Associated Press reported that at least four ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates broadcast warnings on Tuesday that they had lost control of their steering under unclear circumstances as authorities reported “an incident” was underway in the area.

On Wednesday, The Times, citing UK government sources, claimed that a “squad” of armed Iranians stormed an asphalt tanker and tried to take it to Iran but the crew scuppered the engines of the vessel so it could not go anywhere.

These allegations were dismissed by Iranian officials as a prelude to new adventurism by the West against Iran. The senior spokesman for the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, denounced the Western press reports about the alleged incidents in the Gulf of Oman as “psych ops” and an effort to pave the way for new adventurism against Iran. 

“Conflicting reports Western, Zionist, and Saudi media about any maritime insecurity and hijacking of vessels in the region’s waters are sort of psych ops and a prelude to new adventurism,” the Iranian general said. “The armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while supporting passage of commercial ships, are well-prepared and have full intelligence surveillance over any suspicious moves.” 

Iran sensed the danger early on. Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the reports of successive security incidents involving vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman as “totally suspicious.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement that Iranian naval forces are prepared to provide support, if needed, to vessels that send distress signals while passing through the strategic waters of the region.

“In case of problems in navigation systems, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to provide assistance and investigate the matter closely,” he added.

The continuation of Western reports prompted Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Hossein Salami to issue a stark warning against any provocation.

He called on the enemies to abandon wrong moves and plots and avoid challenging Iran, saying that, otherwise, they would receive a crushing response that would make them regret their moves.

Iran’s warning came amid a growing understanding that the West has embarked on a dirty game to ramp up pressure on Iran even by resorting to false flag operations ahead of nuclear talks, which have been put on hold for more than a month. 

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