All signs are currently pointing to serious escalation in the Middle East between Israel, Iran, and involving the United States - particularly after Israel's recent claim of an Iranian sponsored attack on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman two weeks ago.
Signaling the likelihood that another red hot 'tanker war' is set for regional waters within the upcoming months, a new bombshell report in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reveals Israeli intelligence has been waging its own tanker sabotage campaign against the Iranians over the past two years, in order to thwart what Tel Aviv believes are illegal oil shipments that result in funds for terror groups.
"Israel has targeted at least a dozen vessels bound for Syria and mostly carrying Iranian oil out of concern that petroleum profits are funding extremism in the Middle East, US and regional officials say, in a new front in the conflict between Israel and Iran," the WSJ writes.
It also appears part of the Israeli and US campaign to essentially starve the Assad government and bring it to its knees, further amidst near weekly Israeli airstrikes inside the war-torn country. The new report clearly suggests US intelligence officials knew about the covert tanker sabotage campaign in real time, and may have even assisted in some level of the planning or operations. Remember too that during the final months of the Trump administration Pompeo was essentially told he could go "gloves off" when it comes to greenlighting Israeli sabotage against Iran.
Officials say the covert espionage campaign has been underway going back to late 2019, which featured water mines being secretly attached to ships in order to stop 'sanctions-busting activity' in places like the Red Sea - which is a transit route the Islamic Republic uses to resupply its ally Syria of badly needed oil and fuel.
Interestingly, Iran has actually loudly claimed to be victim of precisely such Israeli mine and bomb attacks on the high seas in the recent past, which starting in 2019 were even reported in Israeli media.
See for example the below...
Iran blames alleged tanker attack on Israel, US and Saudis https://t.co/U6RHnGksFX— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) October 16, 2019
"In an episode last month, suspected Israeli operatives attached a limpet mine to attack an Iranian vessel as it anchored near Lebanon to deliver Iran oil to Syria, according to the first shipping professional," WSJ continues.
"The attacks on the tankers carrying Iranian oil haven’t been previously disclosed. Iranian officials have reported some of the attacks earlier and have said they suspect Israeli involvement." But typically when it's the Iranians, Russians or Syrians making the allegations it gets ignored or batted down in Western press.
The rationale provided for such attacks in the report also includes that Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) typically operate or provide security for the tankers bound for Syria. All of this helps explain what appears to be Iranian retaliation over the past year - again, particularly the latest bombing incident against the Israeli-owned cargo ship Helios Ray in the Gulf of Oman.
The Israeli initiative also appears aimed at ensuring the disruption of Biden's stated plans to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
Chief executive for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz, summarized Tel Aviv's approach as follows: "Israel stepped up the game beyond sanctions to sabotage," he was quoted in WSJ as saying. "The Red Sea sabotage is keeping with a broader economic warfare campaign."