Shadow war? Seems the case in Iran, as Joe moves closer to returning to Iran deal

Is a shadow war returning?  It sure looks as though something is happening, based on these two events:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The largest warship in the Iranian navy caught fire and later sank Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman under unclear circumstances, the latest calamity to strike one of the country’s vessels in recent years amid tensions with the West.

The blaze began around 2:25 a.m. and firefighters tried to contain it, the Fars news agency reported, but their efforts failed to save the 207-meter (679-foot) Kharg, which was used to resupply other ships in the fleet at sea and conduct training exercises. State media reported 400 sailors and trainee cadets on board fled the vessel, with 33 suffering injuries.

The ship sank near the Iranian port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz — the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.


Meanwhile, a massive fire broke out Wednesday night at the oil refinery serving Iran’s capital, sending thick plumes of black smoke over Tehran. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were injuries or what caused the blaze at the Tondgooyan Petrochemical Co., though temperatures in the capital reached nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and hot summer weather in Iran has caused fires in the past.

This seems like a lot, given that the events are happening back to back.  The ship was Iran's biggest.  The smoke from the refinery soared over Iran's capital, putting the event impossible to erase in Iranians' minds.

The ruling mullahs are planning elections on June 18, with, as AT contributor Hamid Enayat noting today, low turnout likely.  Did someone do this because he wanted to knock the mullahs out?  Show them as weak, maybe get a rebellion going?  Or better still, deprive them of money?  The mullahs live on oil earnings, and the AP report said 250,000 barrels a day at this big refinery would now be out of circulation (along with their earnings).  It has that Götterdämmerung feel. 

What's more, the events really could have been coincidental.  Everyone knows that the mullahs mismanage every operation, whether it's stealing money or installing politically reliable cronies over verified experts.  The mullahs have been mismanaging a lot these days, maybe the crashes and collapses are spontaneous.

But it's hard not to think somebody has gotten busy.

Could it have been the U.S. that took out the ship and the refinery?  It might have been if the U.S. president in office was one Donald Trump.  On the other hand, with Joe Biden in the saddle, it seems fairly unlikely.  Joe is slavering for a reinstatement of that failed Iran deal to restore the Obama legacy.  He's doing all he can to lay the groundwork for that, including favors for Russian president Vladimir Putin.  Russia is Iran's historic ally.  His pattern thus far has been to succor the Iran regime any way he can.

That might be the root of the problem.  Joe wants his treaty restored, which might mean that the U.S. has been absent from such events.  Iran has been attacking U.S. ships with small "limpet" mines, as the AP notes, which would be reason enough for retaliatory attacks.  But there hasn't been much, at least that we know about.  Why make the mullahs mad when Biden wants them at the signing table? 

There is a nation, though, that's being put out to pasture based on this Biden yen for the Obama Iran treaty: Israel.  This is a country that has no problem with carrying out deadly threats, as well as the capacity to do so.  It's interesting that as this has happened, the chief of the Mossad has retired.  Could it have been a signature exit?  We all know that such events if they were planned take months and months of preparation. 

And now it's happened, and the mullahs will be compelled to explain to the public just why the country seems to be falling apart at the seams.  It's as though avenging angels have struck, given that we don't know whether the events were planned or Israel was the instigator.  Don't count out Saudi Arabia, either, the nation that can't stand Iran's mullahs.  They've got plenty of grounds to team up with the Israelis to get rid of a threat, especially with that ship stirring up trouble in the Strait of Hormuz not far from the Saudi coast and even closer to the smaller Gulf states.  There's also Yemen in the region, with Saudi Arabia still incensed about Iran's troublemaking there.  For good or ill, but certainly, in its national interest, it's also got a record of taking out troublemakers if the situation seems to warrant.

It's quite likely a shadow war, as the AP characterizes it.  We've seen a lot of these going on, from eastern Ukraine and Crimea to the cyber-attack on Sony.  In the U.S., we've had hospital systems and energy pipelines, and more hacked by assailants, shutting vast parts of our nation's infrastructure down.  Presumably, these are to be met with responses, and we see the same thing going on with all the world's superpowers, good and bad.  It seems to be how warfare is done.

That brings us back to Iran.  Was it part of a shadow war?  All we can do is watch how the mullahs behave in the wake of it and take notice of the activities of all the interested parties.

Image: Screen shot from video posted by WION via shareable YouTube.

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