Security, Middle East
In the Persian Gulf, Britain has been caught in a trap of its own making.
So Much for Suez: What Britain's Tanker Crisis with Iran in the Gulf Really Means
Last week’s seizure of a British tanker in the Persian Gulf is nothing short of shocking.
The Swedish-owned and British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero was intercepted en route to Saudi Arabia when it was attacked. The daring raid as captured, if not choreographed, by Iranian state television saw soldiers of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps rappel from helicopters to the deck, with fast attack ships running circles around the vessel.
Yet the most interesting detail is that the British frigate HMS Montrose was in the Gulf, arriving “ten minutes too late” to prevent the attack. Moreover, the crew of the Montrose contacted the Iranians, warning them to stand down, words that were completely ignored by Iranian forces.
So much for a robust deployment East of Suez.
An Unprepared Power
It appears that, in the short term, this crisis is the result of a convergence of factors spurred on by the unsolved national predicament that is Brexit.
Functionally, Britain was leaderless as Iranian forces boarded the vessel. Prime Minister Theresa May was a lame-duck, unable to act as the Conservative Party elected a successor. Tuesday, they chose Boris Johnson as the next prime minister, but his first priority is Brexit, not Iran.