The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has captured another oil tanker under the pretense that the ship was carrying Iranian oil to be sold to foreign customers.
This excuse is ridiculous because the oil industry in Iran is totally controlled by the government. This means that even if the tanker was smuggling oil, it had already paid someone in the government for it — probably a lesser-ranking official who didn’t rate “protection.”
Currently, Iran is under sanctions for threatening its neighbors and carrying out illegal missile tests.
It should be noted that many Iranian leaders have enriched themselves smuggling oil using various cutouts and fake companies to hide the transactions. The fig leaf of “oil smuggling” can’t hide Iran’s egregious violation of international law.
The ship was seized on Wednesday near Farsi Island, where an Iranian Guard Navy base is located, the news outlet reported. The island sits in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran, north of the Strait of Hormuz.
“This foreign vessel had received the fuel from other ships and was transferring it to Persian Gulf Arab states,” Gen. Ramazan Zirahi, a Guard commander, was quoted as saying.
Further information on the vessel, and the nationality of crew members, was not immediately clear.
The seizure marked the third such incident involving a commercial vessel in recent weeks — and the second accused of smuggling fuel.
Iran is angry at Great Britain for seizing a vessel near Gibraltar that was found to be carrying oil bound for Syria. They retaliated by taking a tanker flying under the British flag. They have also detained the sailors on that ship, making them hostages to negotiations.
Great Britain has sent two warships into the Gulf and the U.S. is trying to organize escorts for tankers moving near Iranian territory. This is the best way to handle pirates: a show of force and a demonstration of naval power.
Ultimately, Iran will back down. They have no desire to engage either the Royal Navy or U.S. ships in any kind of shooting war. But someday, they are likely to miscalculate and their “navy” is liable to disappear in one afternoon.