With the arrival of new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to power following his inauguration ceremony on August 3, a severe dispute has occurred between Tehran and London, in addition to the heightened intensity of statements and reciprocal accusations between the two parties, until the matter reached the UN Security Council. This comes against the backdrop of the Israeli tanker Mercer Street accusing Tehran of targeting it in the Gulf of Oman on July 30, as the attack resulted in the killing of two crew members, one of whom was British.
Following the attack, Britain summoned the Iranian ambassador and asked him to clarify the circumstances of the attack and to stop the hostile acts practiced by Iran against all countries in the Middle East. This prompted Iran to summon the Chargé d’Affairs of the British embassy in Tehran to register its objection to the accusations leveled against it by Britain, unveiling an escalation of matters against London if it did not stop accusing Tehran, which it confirmed in more than one meeting.
Nevertheless, on August 4, the British Foreign Office addressed the UN Security Council, asking it to respond to Iran’s destabilizing actions and disrespect for international law, in addition to sending a complaint by Britain, Romania and Liberia to the Security Council to hold Iran accountable for the attack on the Israeli-operated tanker off the coast of Oman, considering that this poses a threat to the safety and security of international shipping and a clear violation of international law.
On the other hand, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on the Iranian authorities to bear serious consequences for the attack on the Israeli oil tanker, stressing that Britain would not let the killing of the British person working on that ship go in vain.
“Iran must face the consequences of what it did… This is clearly an outrageous and unacceptable attack on commercial shipping,” Johnson said.
The matter escalated again on Wednesday, August 4, as Britain accused Iran of hijacking a ship in the Gulf of Oman, indicating that the Asphalt Princess ship “may have been hijacked” in the Gulf of Oman, revealing that that ship was heading towards Iran.
This prompted the Iranian Foreign Ministry to respond in a statement denying all the British accusations and stressing that they are nothing but immature rumors and hasty allegations.
For his part, Iranian Ambassador Mohsen Baharvand said, “London’s reaction in this regard and accusing Iran without having evidence and documents in this regard is hasty and immature,” wondering why Britain is so quick to accuse Iran in this region of West Asia, which is full of tension, without providing evidence.
With the entangling and complications in the scene related to the safety and security of international navigation, questions have been raised about the possibility of launching a strike against Tehran, especially with the arrival of hardliner President Ebrahim Raisi to power. To answer that question, Dr. Masoud Ibrahim Hassan, a researcher specializing in Iranian affairs, explained that there is Israeli-British coordination to respond soon to Iranian attacks with similar ones, either in the Gulf or the Iranian armed forces in Syria.
Hassan pointed out in an exclusive statement to the Reference that there is a European-Israeli agreement on the need to stop Iranian tactics against shipping traffic in the Gulf, and there are several options that can be taken, including a military response, which is now excluded. The second option is represented in new economic sanctions, which could happen in the next stage, or a response in kind to Iranian merchant ships in any region.
Hassan added that what angered Britain was the killing of a British sailor, which prompted it to intervene to stop Iran’s violations of international navigation charters and to take a diplomatic approach by filing a complaint against Iran in the Security Council. However, Iran’s movement will not calm down during the coming period under Raisi’s rule.