In the midst of the worsening relations with the US and its regional allies, Iran has pressed onto the fact that its Revolutionary Guard Corps have seized an Iraqi oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. The tanker is believed to be seized under the charges of “smuggling fuel for some Arab countries”. Along with the oil tanker, the Iranian armed forced have imprisoned seven sailors as well.
According to the Iranian media, the tanker was seized in the northern part of the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday and was carrying around 700,000 litres of oil. The seizing of the vessel is expected to aggravate the already highly magnified tensions in the Gulf region. The tanker has been held at the Bushehr Port in south-western Iran.
However, the Iraqi oil ministry has claimed that it has no ties with the oil tanker which Iranian armed forces have seized. In a statement, the ministry said, “The ministry does not export diesel to the international market.”
The Iraqi oil tanker is the third tanker seized by the Iranian forces and the prime reason for the seizure is believed to be the sanctions that US imposed on Iran.
And in retaliation to the sanctions, as per the media, Iranian forces carried out attacks on the oil tankers in Gulf of Oman in May and June. Further, Iran worsened the situation by shooting a US drone in the Strait of Hormuz. The last two oil tanker seizures – one Panamanian and one British – have further worsened the relations of Iran with the UK and the EU.
Iranian armed forces seized the Panamanian-flagged MT Riah under the pretences of illegal transfer of 264,000 gallons of fuel to the foreign customers. On the other hand, the seizure of British-flagged vessel was an act of retaliation.
In relation to the Iraqi oil tanker seized, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps said, “The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries.”
With continuously worsening relations of Iran with world powers and its stern stance towards the oil tanker of other countries, including the lately seized Iraqi oil tanker, it might be a possibility that we are moving towards a new crisis in the gulf region.