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)
In recent times, nothing has exemplified the double standards of the international community more than its laid-back response to the illicit activities and recklessness of Iran in international waterways during the last few months.
Bizarrely, the international community and its ever-so-willing apologists cronies in the mainstream media seem more interested in chasing shadows with their constant criticism of Israel, while slyly ignoring the main culprit, Iran, which continues to jeopardize safety, peace and security in the region and worldwide.
In May 2019, for instance, four tankers were attacked close to the port of Fujairah off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, in what was a violation of their territorial space. Within a month, on the June 13, two ships – the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian Front Altair -- crossing the Gulf of Oman were sabotaged with explosives. One went up in flames; the other was left to be towed away.
A few weeks later, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) released a video showing commandos in black ski masks and military fatigues descending from a helicopter to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians would on go to shoot down an American drone over International waters. All of these provocations have somehow seemed to be slipped under the radar by the UN and other powers that be.
Tehran is clearly violating international law, specifically the internationally-agreed UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Section two of UNCLOS, for instance, in "Duties of States bordering straits" (Article 44) states:
"States bordering straits shall not hamper transit passage and shall give appropriate publicity to any danger to navigation or overflight within or over the strait of which they have knowledge. There shall be no suspension of transit passage."
The theocratic establishment of Iran is a signatory to this UN convention but has long refrained from ratifying it. If violations by the Iranian government such as those above are disconcerting, even more unsettling are their threats completely to shut the Strait of Hormuz.
This is not be the first time the Iranian leaders are making such dangerous threats. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, in fact, the regime has frequently threatened to block or cause serious damage to the shipment of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.
Threatening to block one of the world's most critical maritime passages has been a core pillar of Iran's foreign policy. Almost four decades of the Islamic Republic reveals that the theocratic establishment has historically threatened to choke off the Strait of Hormuz whenever it fails to achieve or further advance its revolutionary, ideological, and political objectives through other means, including interference and interventions in the domestic affairs of other nations.
Wherever silence prevails, rogue states thrive. In the instance of Iran, the silence of the international community has been earsplitting. Moreover, any destructive malign behavior left unchecked is being passively reinforced; hence, if the international community continues to keep silent, while their unruly pet violates UN resolutions and maritime laws, they can only expect such violations to become the norm.
Picture a scenario in which Israel is the country committing these violations; by now, we would perhaps be struggling to keep up with the long list of resolutions against the Jewish state. The UN needs to hold the Iranian leaders accountable and take appropriate measures against Iran's aggression in the Gulf. If the UN fails to do this, other nations would be stupid not to take the cue deliberately to disobey existing international laws -- possibly leading to a major war. I hope this day never comes.
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