US / Iran: An Update and linkage to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards instigated boarding of a US owner freighter

Question: Is there a linkage between the US Navy , Saudi / Egyptian blockade on the Yemen coast and the Irian Revolutionary Guards initiated seizure of US owned freighter in the Straits of Harmuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf ?

maersktigrisAPN

  • Given the fast failing talks between the West/ Russia and Iran over the Iranian bid to acquire nuclear weapons, currently held up to ridicule by the US Congress,
  • the tactical failures of Iranian backed Hezbollah troops in Syria,
  • the tied down and neutralised Iranian Revolutionary Guards support networks in Yemen,
  • the Iranian naval squadron ‘seen off’ in the Straits of Bab el Mandeb in the Southern Red Sea by the Egyptian navy,
  • and the blockading of the large Iranian freighter convoy attempting to supply its al-Houthi / Salah surrogate forces  in Yemen, by Saudi and US naval forces

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards may have felt that it was their turn to have a victory, even if it of the ‘Pyrrhic type’. Is this behind the seizure of the US owned freighter MV Maersk Tigris by Iranian forces in the Straits of Hormuz?

The ship is a US owned,  Danish Maersk Line operated vessel registered in the ‘Flag of Convenance’ Marshall Islands. The vessel was diverted off its regular track NW through the strategically important Straits of Hormuz, after warning shots were reportedly fired by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessel. The freighter turned out of the regular shipping channels under threat, was boarded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops and was forced to track towards the Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas.

maersktracking              Reuters

The freighter was on a regular run servicing Gulf ports carrying general commercial cargo. Uncorroborated sources have suggested that the Iranian forces have now left the ship, prior to it reaching Bandar Abbas port and that it is now under way Sou’west towards the UAE.

The waters in which the MV Maersk Tigris was seized is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Though claimed by Iran as its territorial waters, shipping has Law of the Sea rights to free transit the Straits as long as they pose no threat to Iranian sovereignty.

Given the nature of this incident it may be concluded that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were flexing their ‘muscles’ after a number of negative incidents listed above. It may have also been a way of showing Iranian displeasure at the rebuff that the US Congress gave to the latest round of talks regarding Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons program. Iran is skilled at manipulating  talks with demonstrations of force at crucial points in negotiations.

They could also be simply reacting to a number of recent tactical humiliations suffered by the Revolutionary Guards in Yemen, Syria and at sea off Bab el Mandeb and felt a need for a show of force, for domestic political reasons.