In Gulf Tanker Crisis, Iran Tries to Avoid Alienating Allies

(Wall Street Journal) Benoit Faucon - Iran's disruptions of Persian Gulf oil shipments risk irritating their few remaining allies. Tehran captured two UK-connected vessels in the Persian Gulf on July 19, but dozens of crew members aboard the seized ships have been Indian and one of the ships seized was chartered by China. When Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded the Liberian-flagged Mesdar on July 19 as it headed to Saudi Arabia to load crude, Iranian state media identified the vessel as British because it is managed by Glasgow-based operator Norbulk Shipping UK. But as Iranian forces began forcing the vessel into its waters, Iran received urgent calls from the vessel's real owner: Algeria - which obtained the ship's release within just over an hour. Even more awkward for Iran was that the tanker had been contracted to carry oil for China. Most oil-laden tankers in the Persian Gulf are ultimately bound for ports in Asian nations - countries that have trade ties with Iran - and it is largely the citizens of those nations who staff vessels.

2019-08-09 00:00:00

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