OPINION: A high-stakes game of chicken is playing out in the Gulf of Oman – by Dennis Horak (Globe and Mail – June 17, 2019)


Dennis Horak was Canada’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia until he was expelled in August, 2018. He was also head of mission in Iran from 2009-12.

Thursday’s attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman was a dangerous escalation in the game of high-stakes chicken that has been playing out in that volatile region.

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has pointed the finger squarely at Iran, citing intelligence, the weapons used and Iran’s known capabilities. The U.S. has also taken the unusual step of releasing a video of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessel alongside one of the ships, apparently removing an unexploded limpet mine, to back up its allegations.

The U.S. position in directing blame to Iran is compelling. Iran has the motivation, the capability and the form. Tehran is feeling the heat of the U.S. policy of maximum pressure and they are clearly growing ever more anxious for relief by whichever means they can get it.

Military action in the Gulf may, on its face, seem to be a dangerously provocative action for Iran to take at this juncture and with this U.S. President. But there is a method to their madness.

This kind of limited attack on oil shipments passing through the Gulf likely aims to serve as a reminder to the U.S. and others of what Iran is capable of doing and the risks they can pose to the global economy. The 5 per cent spike in oil prices after the attack reinforced that message.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-a-high-stakes-game-of-chicken-is-playing-out-in-the-gulf-of-oman/

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