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Tanker hijacking off Oman coast 'false-flag' op designed to rally support against Iran, analyst tells Press TV

This handout file photo shows the Thalassa Desgagnes tanker, now called the Asphalt Princess, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, June 19, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

A political analyst tells Press TV that the recent alleged hijacking of a Panama-flagged tanker off the coast of Oman was a “false-flag” operation and “media hype” aimed at damaging Iran’s credit and undermining security in the Persian Gulf.  

“It was expected from the Israelis and Americans to start using [hues and] cries about the current affairs in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and go for … false-flag hijacking and unreal stories in order to rally international support for their bid to win a UN Security Council resolution against Iran,” Mostafa Khoshcheshm told Press TV in an interview on Wednesday.

He said that after their failure to rally support for a UN resolution following a ship incident off the Omani coast in the last few days, the US and its allies went for a false-flag operation to pressure the international community into joining them in pressuring Tehran.

Tensions have simmered in the region after a suspected drone attack last week on an Israeli-managed tanker off the Omani coast killed two crew members and was blamed on Iran by the United States, Israel and Britain. Iran categorically denied the accusation.

Meanwhile, maritime sources reported on Tuesday that the Panama-flagged asphalt/bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess had been seized off the coast of the United Arab Emirates at the opening of the Strait of Hormuz — one of the world’s busiest waterways, accusing Iran of being behind the incident.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations said on Wednesday that the potential hijack of the Panama-flagged vessel had ended.

The security agency said the ship was safe and boarders had left the tanker, without giving any further details in its warning notice.

Khoshcheshm said such efforts by the US and its allies in the Persian Gulf were only disturbing peace and security in the strategic region, which was to the detriment of regional countries.

 “They are actually disturbing security in the Persian Gulf, that’s detrimental to the security of all the neighbors … because the Israelis and the Americans have long proved that they don’t care for security in this region because they don’t live in this part of the world. So they don’t sustain much damage while other countries in the region are victims of such hues and cries,” the analyst said.

He added that Israelis and Americans have long been developing plots “in order to deter the IRGC (Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) that is in charge of the Persian Gulf [security] in order to widen their own presence and find a foothold in the Persian Gulf” and to “transfer … tension to territories adjacent to Iran.”

He warned about the consequences of such “psychological warfare”, “false-flag operations” and “media hype” seeking “to damage Iran’s credit,” and said when they set fire to the stability, peace and security of the region, they will endanger their own interests as well, including their trade.

“Apparently they are insane enough in their quest for winning the support of other countries” in pressuring Iran, but Iranians “would not be intimidated or influenced by such plots and they stand firm in reciprocating any kind of animosity toward Iran,” the analyst noted.  

Pundits believe the alleged hijacking is essentially a lie aimed at instilling insecurity in the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Armed Forces have denounced recent contradictory reports of maritime incidents and hijacking in the Sea of Oman as a Western “psychological warfare” meant to set the ground for new adventurism.

Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman of the Armed Forces, said on Tuesday that “contradictory reports from some Western, Zionist and Saudi media about any maritime insecurity and hijacking of ships in regional waters is a kind of psychological warfare and setting the stage for new bouts of adventurism.”

“In addition to helping the safe movement of commercial ships, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have full intelligence about any suspicious movements and stand completely prepared,” he told Fars news agency, adding, “The powerful naval forces of the IRGC and Army are ready to provide any assistance and dispatch relief units if necessary and at the request of foreign vessels.”


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