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Prominent Arab journalist: Iran's response to piracy shocked Americans

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This combination of pictures created from grabs of footage broadcast by Iranian state TV shows how the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized an American vessel that had stolen a cargo of Iranian oil in the strategic Sea of Oman. (Via AFP)

The Iranian operation to release its stolen oil shipment carried the message that the country’s armed forces are not afraid of any military confrontation with the United States, a prominent Arab journalist has said. 

The operation conducted by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s heliborne troops to release the country’s stolen oil literally said “we do not fear you, that we are ready for military confrontation, and that we are prepared to respond to any aggression against us regardless of the price,” Abdul Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, wrote in an editorial.

The IRGC’s Navy released a video on Wednesday showing Iranian forces landing on the deck of a tanker that had seized an Iranian oil shipment in an “act of piracy”. They then navigated the vessel toward Iranian waters. The incident took place on October 25.

Earlier, American forces had confiscated a tanker carrying the cargo of Iranian oil in the strategic Sea of Oman and had transferred its consignment of crude to the IRGC-captured MV Sothys, a Vietnamese-flagged ship.

In a statement, the IRGC said that after the American forces transferred the crude to the second vessel, “timely and powerful” action by the Guards’ servicemen “frustrated the operation by the terrorist US Army’s naval forces to steal the Islamic Republic of Iran's oil in the Sea of Oman.”

In his piece, Atwan said the footage demonstrated the IRGC forces’ success in releasing Iran’s stolen oil.

“The immediate and successful Iranian response came as a shock to the American administration and its military leadership, because they expected Iran” to put up with the blow and not respond, he stated.

The seizure of Iran’s oil shipment by US forces constitutes “the most heinous form of official piracy and a public declaration of war against Iran,” the Palestinian journalist said.

Meanwhile, the US has rejected Iran’s narrative of the encounter, saying its forces did not attempt to retake or otherwise engage in the situation, but rather, they were “monitoring” the situation as it unfolded.

“We monitor a lot of activity in that part of the world,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

“We acted completely in accordance with international law, unlike the Iranians,” he claimed, when pressed on why the US military did not take action against the IRGC forces, despite its so-called deterrent presence in the region.

Kirby further claimed that the US presence in the Middle East “has and will continue to act as a deterrent,” but went on to concede that the US cannot confront Iran and the IRGC in different circumstances.

Atwan pointed out that the US is still digesting its “disgraceful defeat” in Afghanistan.

“America, which suffered a disgraceful defeat in Afghanistan, and withdrew in a humiliating manner from it, only four months ago, is still licking its wounds, and trying to live with this defeat,” he argued.

The Lebanese commentator added that getting involved in a war with Iran is not something that the US sees as plausible at the current juncture.

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