July has seen a strew of increasingly dramatic events in the Strait of Hormuz. Beginning with attacks on two oil tankers -- the Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous -- that the US pinned blame for on Iran, matters have only escalated.
In the immediate aftermath Japanese owners of the latter tanker claimed that US video evidence did not prove Iran was behind the explosion on board.
Things came to a head when on July 20th, Iranian forces boarded and seized a British tanker, the Stena Impero. It seems to have been in retaliation for the seizure in Gibraltar of an Iranian tanker, Grace 1, headed for Syria earlier in the month. The Royal Marines were involved in and aided authorities during that operation in which they have recently been reported to have used “brute force”.
Tensions are still growing. The UK sent an additional warship to secure the area for its own vessels, but there may be hope. Iran is looking towards to the change of administration in the UK, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson regards Iran as a potential threat. There is, therefore, a chance that the United Kingdom may join forces with US President Donald Trump and follow his consistent, hostility towards Iran. That is precisely what some experts fear.
Iran is looking towards to the change of administration in the UK, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson regards Iran as a potential security threat.
There’s one way to characterize the nature of the Trump administration's relations with the Islamic Republic: tense. It hasn’t had a difficult time maintaining that status quo.
Matters reached an even more critical stage when John Bolton was appointed National Security Advisor in April 2018. Bolton is on record having advocated for regime change in Iran, and elsewhere. He also called for the termination of the Iran nuclear deal on numerous occasions.
Amid the backdrop of tense US-Iran relations, which included the downing of an American drone that the latter said violated its airspace last month, and the subsequent shooting-down of an Iranian drone (that Iran claimed never happened), and culminated with US troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, the UK’s entrance to the scene and PM Boris Johnson’s next move means things can go either one of two directions.
the UK’s entrance to the scene and PM Boris Johnson’s next move means things can go either one of two directions.
If Johnson decides to pursue a “UK first” policy, and attempts to upset the EU even further, he can certainly fall behind the US and Trump’s hardline, aggressive stance towards Iran. The Islamic Republic will likely attempt to avert any direct escalation of conflict into a full-on military conflict.
But the UK could take another route. It can emerge from the heated events level-headed, and has reason to doubt the reasonability of continuing with the US stance. After all, some believe that the Royal Marine’s involvement in the seizure of the Iranian tanker headed for Syria was actually a product of the US duping the UK into falling into the conflict on its side.
After all, some believe that the Royal Marine’s involvement in the seizure of the Iranian tanker headed for Syria was actually a product of the US duping the UK into falling into the conflict on its side.
That happened when the UK government was “distracted”. With an increasingly agitated US (which also just placed sanctions on the Iranian Foriegn Minister) it remains to be seen whether now, with a new leader in place and a new administration settling in, the UK will follow suit or open a new path forward.
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