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Iran Humiliated as its Tanker Bounces Around Mediterranean

Iran Humiliated as its Tanker Bounces Around Mediterranean

Monday, 2 September, 2019 - 06:00
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Iran has been downright humiliated before the world as it cannot sell two million barrels of oil to any country — not even its allies. Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 has been going from port to port, unable to unload its shipment.

Out of fear of Washington, the Panamanian shipping company under which the Iranian oil tanker was sailing has disowned it and removed it from its records, prompting it to take down Panama’s flag, change its name from Grace 1 to Adrian Darya 1, and raise the Iranian flag.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was happy. He thought he defeated the US when the UK gave in to Tehran’s blackmail and released the tanker, which was seized at the Port of Gibraltar, after an act of piracy by Iran against a British vessel in the Gulf. Since that day, the Iranian vessel has been wandering without a specific destination. Greece, Turkey and Lebanon refused to aid it.

Remember, the tanker is carrying oil, not forbidden weapons; but despite this, no government dared to receive the Iranian vessel.

We see before us an example of how US power is displayed without bullets or Marines, and without the need to board the ship or arrest its captain. The world can see how the Iranian regime is unable to sell the two million barrels or even offer them as a free gift. How will it manage its international dealings during the US sanctions period?

Chasing the ship at sea and depriving it of its destination is an American message, not only to the supreme leader of Iran, but also to the region and the world, allies and enemies alike. Washington has tied Iran’s hands and driven it back into a corner, leaving it with only one open door — negotiations. It will not find a trick to overcome the boycott, and evidence of this is that Lebanese banking institutions were blacklisted last week; another blow and a message to the Lebanese and Iraqis who think there is a valuable opportunity to trade in the boycott era.

President Donald Trump’s administration is repairing America’s prestige, which reached rock bottom in past crises, when previous US administrations — and European governments, too — were forced to pay bribes to release their citizens arbitrarily detained by the Tehran regime, and remain silent in response to its assassinations on their territories and the violations of its companies.

Whatever our opinion of the Trump administration and its stances, the US is a real major power that does not hesitate to discipline anyone who messes with its interests and security. While Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the supreme leader using nice language — come, let us negotiate — they also carry a thick stick.

Because of Trump, the supreme leader receives plenty of bad news, which spoils his almond tea hours. This news includes the bombing of his militias in Iraq, the attack against Hezbollah with a booby-trapped drone in Lebanon, the bombing of his forces in Syria, the sabotaging of his ballistic missile launch tests (which Trump flaunted with a photo on Twitter), the bans on his remittances, the global blacklisting of his bankers, and the chasing of his oil tankers at sea. This is in addition to the unannounced intelligence operations against Iran in various areas in the region.

Can Iran bear this intense and persistent targeting? It may bet on a change after the US elections next year, but until then its losses are significant. President Hassan Rouhani was forced to address his citizens, calling on them to be patient with the hardships of living, low wages and unemployment. This sounds more like a cry for help than a call for solidarity, and reflects Rouhani’s frustration with his boss, the supreme leader, at a time when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps squanders their people’s money to flare up the region with wars.

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