What Really Happened in the Persian Gulf

(Map courtesy The Diplomat and

(Map courtesy The Diplomat and

I’m still playing catchup on this one, due to a weird production schedule on the PJTV side yesterday and today, but The Diplomat has the most clear-headed report I’ve seen so far. Read:

Saudi Arabia-backed, UAE-based Al Arabiya was among the first sources to break the news in English. It reported that Iran had fired warning shots (true) and seized a U.S.-flagged vessel (false). Nevertheless, the initial reports sparked considerable online panic at the prospect that the United States and Iran could be headed for a major confrontation. The report also noted that the crew of the ship numbered 34 and were American. Needless to say, U.S. citizens being held against their will by Iran hits a raw nerve for the United States given certain historical events. We’ve since learned, thanks to Reuters, that the Tigris’ has a crew of 24, most of whom hail “from Eastern Europe and Asia.” In the process of the seizure, the IRGCN fired across the bow of the ship. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told CNN that “the master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters. He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris.”

Iran’s reasons for seizing the ship were at first unclear. Speculation abounded that the incident was a show of force intended to strike back at the United States after it sent the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) to intercept an Iranian arms shipment to Yemen’s Houthis last week. Additionally, others suggested that the seizure could have been a move by hardliners opposing Iran’s negotiations with the West over its nuclear program – an attempt to spark a broader crisis to derail those talks.

The Islamic Republic has been doing crazy-pants stuff since the crazy-pants took over more than 30 years ago and seized our embassy and everyone in it.

This ship seizure is less likely to be the crazy-pants scuttling the nuclear talks than it is just business as usual. Rather, the nuclear talks are the supposed to cover the fact that the crazy-pants are still in charge, always have been, and always will be so long as Iran remains the Islamic Republic.