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Why should we believe US claims that Iran is responsible for attack in Gulf of Oman?
The United States government is claiming that Iran is responsible for an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. The New York Times reports:
Explosions crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday in what the United States called “unprovoked attacks” by Iran, raising alarms about immediate security and potential military conflict in a vital passageway for a third of the world’s petroleum.
Iran called the accusations part of a campaign of American disinformation and “warmongering.”
The explosions forced the crews of both vessels to evacuate and left at least one ablaze, and hours later the causes were still under investigation. Yet the backdrop of steeply rising threats between President Trump and Iranian leaders gave the stricken ships a grave significance even before the facts became clear.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the press only hours after the alleged attacks:
It is the assessment of the United States Government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.
This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations.
The problem with these claims is that they don't provide any actual, independently verifiable proof to back them up.
Trump's claim on Fox News that, "You know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s got essentially Iran written all over it," is hardly convincing. We saw a grainy video of a boat next to another ship that the US was able to so conveniently provide, where we certainly can't see anything that guarantees the ship or the people aboard are agents of the Iranian government. And even if we saw a mine literally stamped with "Property of the Islamic Republic of Iran" on it that would be nothing more than circumstantial evidence rather than absolute proof of their guilt.
This is not to say that Iran couldn't be responsible for the attacks, as it's certainly possible. They could have done it in retaliation for US sanctions against them and President Trump's scrapping of the Iran Deal negotiated during the Obama regime, or simply as a show of dominance in their sphere of the world. Pompeo's statement that Iran is seeking to disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz as they "promised" to do is entirely plausible.
The problem is that the United States has a long history of fabricating "attacks" or "evidence" of wrongdoing against governments that they don't like and want an excuse to go to war with.
Prior to the Gulf War, the George H.W. Bush regime assured Saddam Hussein that they had no intention of interfering or taking sides in a then theoretical Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The New York Times reported at the time:
The Administration's message to Baghdad, articulated in public statements in Washington by senior policy makers and delivered directly to Mr. Hussein by the United States Ambassador, April C. Glaspie, was this: The United States was concerned about Iraq's military buildup on its border with Kuwait, but did not intend to take sides in what it perceived as a no-win border dispute between Arab neighbors.
This was a lie and went out the window as soon as Bush was able to use the false Nayirah testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus to convince the American public that Saddam's forces were barbarically ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and leaving them to die to justify his invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War. Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States at the time, and was working for a Kuwaiti propaganda outfit working to get the United States to back Kuwait in their conflict with Iraq.
And who could forget H.W.'s son George W. Bush and his regime lying us into the gigantic disaster that is the Iraq War over so-called weapons of mass destruction, and the specter of a "mushroom cloud" over America? Saddam was, in reality, nowhere close to developing nuclear weapons, or any weapons with the capability of harming the United States, nor was he in league with al-Qaeda, and the chemical weapons that he had in his possession were sold to him by the United States in the 80's.
The precipitating event to US involvement in the Vietnam War was the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where North Vietnamese boats allegedly engaged the USS Maddox in a firefight on August 2, 1964, when in reality, according to declassified NSA documents, the USS Maddox fired on the North Vietnamese boats first. The Lyndon B. Johnson regime neglected to inform the American public of this fact, or the fact that the second confrontation between the USS Maddox and the North Vietnamese on August 4, 1964 was in fact nothing at all. The Maddox began firing at North Vietnamese boats they thought they saw on their radar, but it turned out nothing was there. This did not stop LBJ from using these "two" incidents with the North Vietnamese to stir up public support for the US taking an active military role in Vietnam.
This is not to mention that the US and various allies such as Israel have been saying for nearly 30 years some variation on the theme of "Iran is only 10 years away from a nuclear bomb!" See here and here. And yet the IAEA has reported that Iran gave up any serious work into nuclear weapons capability in 2003, and that prior to Trump pulling out of the nuclear deal Iran was complying with the terms of the agreement.
Again, none of this proves that Iran is not responsible for the attacks on Thursday, but the point is that the unverifiable claims of the United States government, which has spent decades trying to vilify the Iranian regime and has a documented history of lying to justify military invasions and regime change operations of countries that it doesn't like, cannot be taken as fact without independent analysis which has not happened in this case. As of now, any claim that the Iranian government is behind these attacks can safely be disregarded as nothing more than war propaganda from a government that has been trying to justify a war with Iran for decades.