On June 13, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, saying, "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." (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Criticism continues to fly at the Trump administration in response to the White House's attempts to deter Iran's threats. Despite increasing acts of violence, and aggressive behavior towards the US, President Trump is criticized by some people for his determination to hold the Iranian government accountable.
By using its military to attack the US and its allies, the Islamic Republic has been unabashedly resorting to hard power tactics. Iran's actions are clear; there has been virtually no attempt on its part to disguise hostile intentions. Why is there no international outrage? The mainstream media continue to fail to report adequately Iran's attacks. There has been no focus placed on the increase over the past two months of these attacks.
The Iranian government's policy appears to be two-pronged. The first facet seems linked to instructing its proxies across the region to attack and wreak havoc on entities linked to the United States, European countries, and Gulf states.
The Houthi attack on a Saudi oil installation and the rocket that landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have also been tied to the Iranian regime and its proxies. Each of these assaults has in some way caused harm to US interests.
It was recently leaked that the head of the Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, instructed a conglomerate of more than 40 militia groups, which operate under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), to "prepare for proxy war."
The second prong of Iran's policy of violence appears to consist of direct military assaults. In the last two months, six oil tankers have been attacked. First, four tankers were targeted in the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. A month later, a pair of tankers crossing the Gulf of Oman off the coast of Iran were sabotaged with explosives; one of the tankers went up in flames and both were left adrift.
The Strait of Hormuz, situated between the borders of Iran and Oman, one of the world's most crucial waterways, used to transport roughly 33% of total global seaborne traded oil. These attacks cause global fear and impact businesses worldwide.
Iran's fingerprints are all over these aggressions. It is believed that the attacks on the tankers were directly carried out by the Iranian regime because of the high level of sophistication. The incident was not isolated; it was apparently premeditated and organized, implying that there may well be more such attacks in the works.
As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out, "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."
Iran's overt attacks included shooting down a United States military drone. The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, threatened that shooting down the drone was a warning to the U.S. He added that, "the only way for our enemies to be safe is to respect our sovereignty, national security, and the national interests of the great Iranian nation".
On several occasions, the Trump administration invited Iran to the negotiating table in an attempt to deescalate tensions. It is Iran that rejects the talks and continues to act aggressively, all while openly threatening the U.S. and its allies.
In a tweet mentioning Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei wrote:
"You said Mr. @abeshinzo, that Trump has said negotiations with the U.S. would lead to Iran's progress. By the Grace of God, without negotiations & despite sanctions, we will progress."
In a meeting with Abe, Khamenei also pointed out that, "I do not consider Trump, as a person, deserving to exchange messages with. We will not negotiate with the United States."
Why, therefore, are the critics of the Trump administration so extremely quick to condemn the president, while they are comfortable disregarding Iran's attacks? Do they expect the U.S. to sit idly by, watching while the Islamic Republic carries out flurries of offenses across the region? Do they expect the U.S. to turn a blind eye as Tehran attempts to further destabilize the region in order to impose insecurity and fear worldwide, and advance its revolutionary and parochial interests? How many people must be threatened, tortured, or slaughtered, before Trump's response will be deemed warranted?
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu