This Business Will Get Out of Control, It Will Get Out of Control and We’ll Be Lucky to Live Through It: Tanker Attack Rashomon Edition!

According to reports, over the weekend, several oil tankers were attacked using magnetically attached mines in the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah port. The initial reports were, interestingly enough, on Sputnik, the Russian state owned “news” media service on Mother’s Day in the US. Which meant absolutely no one was following this story. So the Saudis, which had two tankers damaged and the UAE, in whose port this occurred are, of course, screaming for security assistance and blaming Iran. Iran is denying they had anything to do with it. And knowledgeable observers have questions. Especially as the port authorities in Fujairah have denied that anything out of the ordinary happened at all.

Here’s the translation:

The media office of the Government of Fujairah denies the validity of media
reports about the loud explosions that rocked the UAE port of Fujairah at dawn
today, and confirms that the work movement in the port is conducted as usual,
and calls on the media to investigate the accuracy and reliance on official
sources.

Nothing was showing on satellite at the time:

The Saudis, of course, are claiming major damage to their two tankers:

And Iran denies any involvement:

While these types of operations are not my area expertise, I have spent considerable amounts of time over the past decade working on issues pertaining to Iran; its strategic understanding of itself, how it interacts with the world and within the region; and its strategic objectives. The IRGC and the Quds Force are neither stupid, nor are they sloppy. They know that right now the US is looking for an excuse, so conducting a high risk, low reward operation like this right now makes no sense whatsoever. I think this analysis is a far better explanation of what is going on:

Until/unless I see something to make me think otherwise, Chief Wright’s and Chief Nance’s assessments make the most sense to me. I would not be surprised at all, as more information on what, if anything happened, in Fujairah over the weekend is learned and reported, that we find this was another ultimately self defeating effort undertaken by security and intel personnel close to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, Emirati Crown Prince Muhammad bun Zayed, or that they contracted it out. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Secretary Pompeo uses this to hammer the EU officials he’s meeting with in Brussels today in regard to the US’s position on Iran and/or whether it comes up during his meeting with Putin and Lavrov at Putin’s resort in Sochi later in the week.

Obligatory:

Open thread!

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92 replies
  1. 1
    trollhattan says:

    God, is this some Gulf of Tonkin shit so Bolton and Bibi can get their Iran war on?

    ETA oh look, I’m just echoing one of those tweets. Paranoid minds thinking alike.

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: Possibly. The difference between then and now is the Internet and social media. For all that they can be manipulated to create bad effects, they also can be utilized to counter them. Kind of hard to sell a Port of Fujairah incident as a casus belli when you’ve got people posting satellite imagery showing nothing happened, ships registrations showing the vessels claiming to have been attacked weren’t even there, etc.

  3. 3
    TenguPhule says:

    This live action remake of Wag the Dog is terrible.

  4. 4
    cliosfanboy says:

    Dont forget, the first Gukf of Tonkin attack did happen. LBJ lied about the US being innocently sailing in international waters, but the attack was in broad daylight and North Vietnam proudly displayed their damaged ships. The 2d, nighttime, attack was the jittery sailors shooting at radar ghosts that was LBJs excuse to lie.

  5. 5
    burnspbesq says:

    @trollhattan:

    It’s not paranoia if they really are after you.

    P.S. Fred Thompson was a much better actor than a Senator.

    P.P.S. Hunt for Red October is a great guilty-pleasure movie. So much good acting.

  6. 6
    TenguPhule says:

    No one targets high riding empty tankers w/ divers & limpet mines

    Only a fool would fall for a plan like this……oh shit.

  7. 7
    germy says:

    Pompeo went looking for a photo op and the Europeans refused? I read that today, but I can’t find the link.

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @burnspbesq: Agreed on the movie. Imagine, giving the improvements in CG animation, what they could do today with the underwater scenes.

  9. 9
    TenguPhule says:

    @trollhattan:

    Paranoid minds thinking alike.

    Paranoia is the new Precognition.

  10. 10
    ruemara says:

    A major wag of the dog. And I bet it will work very well. We don’t have the media people being skeptical of this shit and we do have people committed to belief in a wrong thing over all.

  11. 11
    Kansi says:

    Hate that I have to be suspicious of the Saudis, the Iranians, the Russians, the UAE, and now the Trumpers. Too much crazy is making me crazy.

  12. 12
    CliosFanBoy says:

    rather than Tonkin, this smells to me more of the “Polish attack” on the German radio station in 1939: an entire fabrication rather than an exaggeration pasted onto half a story..

  13. 13
    TenguPhule says:

    Mike Pompeo attempts to crash Iran nuclear deal meeting in Europe

    Because apparently Monday is “Everything goes to shit” day.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    TenguPhule says:

    @Kansi:

    Hate that I have to be suspicious of the Saudis, the Iranians, the Russians, the UAE, and now the Trumpers.

    why would you be suspicious of the Iranians. They’re only ones who haven’t been caught lying.

  16. 16
    germy says:

    A senior European diplo tells me @SecPompeo came to Brussels for a photo op — Europe and US stand against Iran. "He wanted a photo op. We declined and stuck to the plan." #Iran #EU @FedericaMog— laurence norman (@laurnorman) May 13, 2019

    A note in response to some questions. Please read this metaphorically not literally. He didn't literally come for a photo up and was declined. Diplo source said he came to create impression US had Euro backing vs Iran but that Euros declined to play that game.— laurence norman (@laurnorman) May 13, 2019

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: They’re not amused.

  18. 18
    Cacti says:

    Would I put it past KSA to set the proverbial Reichstag on fire? Or our “best friend and ally” Israel?

    Not for a second.

    This smells like neocon shenanigans.

  19. 19
    Jerzy Russian says:

    What a clusterfuck.

  20. 20
    TenguPhule says:

    Speaking of things getting out of control, the British look like they’re royally screwed. Impossible as it may seem, the last batch of elections now appear to have made it even less likely for any agreement to be made about Brexit, in any direction whatsoever.

  21. 21
    germy says:

    @CliosFanBoy: @Adam L Silverman:
    The next Democratic administration will have a lot of work to do.

    EDIT: understatement of the year

  22. 22
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    They’re not amused.

    Nobody expects the Inquisition.

  23. 23
    TenguPhule says:

    @germy:

    The next Democratic administration will have a lot of work to do.

    Vote Hercules for President. Because he’s the only one with enough experience in cleaning out this much shit from the stables.

  24. 24
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @germy:
    What do these Republican Tea Party morons like Pompeo think of the rest of the world largely treating them like jokes and with such disrespect? Does it rankle them?

  25. 25
  26. 26
    germy says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: I’m guessing Pompeo feels contempt for them. Like when Dick Cheney called them “old Europe”

  27. 27
    ruemara says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: They don’t care because folks back here will believe that they’re really loved & respected.

  28. 28
    trollhattan says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:
    “They’re stupid foreigners, why pay any attention to what they think?”

    The argument makes itself in Trumpland.

  29. 29
    Jay says:

    The photo of the damage to the Norweigan Ship, looks like the ship struck a cargo container.

    – the hole is irregular, as if the ship was impaled on a shipping container corner while in motion, not uniform like a limpet mine blast,

    – the “ blow in” of the plate is not uniform and is in fact missing in the aft section,

    – there’s no scorch marks or melting,

    – their appears to be paint transfer, (COSCO beige) on the upper portion of the bent plate,

  30. 30

    It will also be interesting to see whether or not Secretary Pompeo uses this to hammer the EU officials he’s meeting with in Brussels today in regard to the US’s position on Iran and/or whether it comes up during his meeting with Putin and Lavrov at Putin’s resort in Sochi later in the week.

    “Interesting” is doing a lot of work there.

  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @burnspbesq: Notice that in the article the sourcing for the claim is the Saudis:

    Saudi Arabia has said two of its oil tankers have been damaged in mysterious “sabotage attacks” in the Gulf

    I have no doubt that four ships were mined and, as a result, damaged. I have significant doubts, given the little that’s been verified so far, about how much damage was done and who is actually responsible.

  32. 32

    @burnspbesq:

    Hunt for Red October is a great guilty-pleasure movie. So much good acting.

    It has been decades since I saw the film. The only thing I remember is Sean Connery giving the Soviet submarine crew a rousing pep talk in a burr so pronounced that I expected next to see the The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, bagpipes skirling, march across the set.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    This is going to take focus off Infrastructure Week. //

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: It’s working a double shift today.

  35. 35
    MattF says:

    Just waiting for… something to go very, very wrong, followed by Fox News revealing that that Democrats are responsible. What are they waiting for?

  36. 36
    TenguPhule says:

    @NotMax:

    This is going to take focus off Infrastructure Week. //

    I have bad news for you. This was Infrastructure week. //

  37. 37
    J R in WV says:

    Woah!

    You mean middle-eastern security squads might engage in misleading plots to cause wide-spread warfare? What happens to Saudi income in the Strait of Hormuz is blocked by burning tankers and a sinking aircraft carrier?

    Am I the only person who remembers the war games [Millennium Challenge 2002] where retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper led the red team (Iran) against invading blue team (US Navy) and destroyed an aircraft carrier group and the rest of the US fleet with unanticipated and asymmetric strategy and tactics? I know I’m not… Can Iran use Wikipedia? I know they can…

    After the humiliation of losing to a Marine general, the Joint Chiefs restricted the available strategy and tactics, restarted the game by “refloating” their fleet, and then the Blue Group won after the Marine General resigned. But in the real world there are no artificial restrictions on unconventional strategy and tactics…

    ETA: Playing with fire over there!!! Some edits too…

  38. 38
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    It’s working a double shift today.

    Lift with the knees, not with the back.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Kent says:

    This just seems so 20th Century.

    These days we don’t even need plausable reasons to take nonsensical policy actions. Steel tariffs against Canada for national security? Scrapping the Iran deal because….????

    I have a hard time believing that the Trump Administration would bother to even gin up any sort of fake causus belli for anything they actually wanted to do in the world. So I kind of doubt that has anything to do with it.

    As for the rest of it? If you want to mess with Saudi Arabia, blow up some pipelines, not some empty tankers. Saudi Arabia is dependent on several pipelines across large tracts of desert to get their crude to market. If you want to blame Iran for something, they are already doing plenty of actual mischief in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. No need to make up more shit.

    The whole thing is just weird and perhaps a distraction from something else going on? Or some sort of shipping scam? Who knows.

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @J R in WV: This port is directly on the Arabian Sea, so if you wanted to create some panic, attacking ships in it would be a good way to go because it would signal that diverting tankers to the one port outside the Straits of Hormuz won’t do you any good.

  42. 42
    Inventor says:

    These events happened at the port of Fujairah, which is outside the Straits of Hormuz. I remember the project of ADNOC (Abu Dhabi’s national oil co.) back in the ’90s to put in a pipeline so they could deliver oil even if the Straits were closed by Iran. The project was one of the “open secrets” in A.D. at the time.

    I wonder if there is any significance to this location vs. the port in A.D.

  43. 43
    TenguPhule says:

    @Kent:

    I have a hard time believing that the Trump Administration would bother to even gin up any sort of fake causus belli for anything they actually wanted to do in the world.

    Saudi Arabia is not known for their technical competence.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: I’ve seen Pelton’s thread.

  45. 45
    Kent says:

    So who thinks this might be some sort of plot to spike oil prices?

    Someone or some entitity has massive oil futures and mines a couple of ships to spike prices?

    That seems as plausible as anything else.

    Follow the money is usually the right strategy.

  46. 46
    J R in WV says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Saudi Arabia is not known for their technical competence.

    But claiming ships were damaged that were obviously not in the port, were located in the Red Sea, that’s a new level of incompetence!

    Almost as bad as having a high-temperature oven built in the Consul’s back yard before disposing of the body parts.

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Inventor: It is. Regardless of who is ultimately identified as responsible for this, the message is: it doesn’t matter where you put the tanker port and fueling station, we can shut it off if it is inside the Straits of Hormuz or if it is outside them directly on the Arabian Sea.

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @J R in WV: Especially as one of the people making that claim is Bashar al Assad, who is a client of Iran’s.

  49. 49
    TenguPhule says:

    @Kent: Right now the House favorite is that Saudi Arabia is trying to kick off an Iran War.

    While Israel is no doubt technically capable of this kind of sabotage, they’re usually much more professional about it. This “attack” looks like that of a rank amateur.

  50. 50
    TenguPhule says:

    @J R in WV:

    But claiming ships were damaged that were obviously not in the port, were located in the Red Sea, that’s a new level of incompetence!

    Geography is obviously an optional elective for Saudi Princes.

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for telling us, Silverman. Of course, I don’t believe any of it. They have been trying to lie us into a war with Iran since the beginning of this term.

  52. 52
    Inventor says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Exactly. This means it is a shot at the A.D. royal family and/or if Iranian or made to appear to be of Iranian origin.

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: Check the email you use to post here. If that isn’t a legit email, please email me.

    Nothing bad!

  54. 54
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Did you see the limpet mine hole from the Tanker War?

    ( the first tweet)

    So far, just one photo of “damage”, two photo’s of dents that could be anything,

    add in Bolton’s unsubstatiated claims last week,

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: I did. That’s why I have questions, lots and lots of questions.

  56. 56
    Another Scott says:

    @Kent: Following the money makes sense. Putin wants higher oil prices, of course.

    Why was Sputnik/RT (apparently) a/the main news source on this?

    So many questions…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  57. 57
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Kent:
    That was my first thought too – physical world manipulation to make big money on oil futures, disguised as an inept Saudi attempt to start a war ( or maybe spike oil prices).
    Which means (among many other things) that lots of theories have been/will be spun up.

  58. 58
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: Also explains Bashar Assad’s statement. Russia is a bigger patron for him right now than Iran is.

  59. 59
    J R in WV says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    “This port is directly on the Arabian Sea, so if you wanted to create some panic, attacking ships in it would be a good way to go”

    Thanks for the update… haven’t done the Goggle maps thing for this Gulf of Tonkin type event.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Silverman, it’s a legit email addy.

  61. 61
    Chyron HR says:

    It’s okay, my dudes. This is the exact reason why we elected Donald the Dove, a great Man of Peace, instead of Crazy War Lady Shillary.

  62. 62
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Until I see a photo of an actual blast hole from an explosive,

    I’m gonna go with a Social Media Fake News hype,

    More so that the “first footage” is from RT and Spudnik.

    Nothing better than giving Boulton what he’s asking for to further damage the US.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: Just being thorough.

  64. 64
    Raoul says:

    @Kent: 2:15pm CDT
    “Oil prices climb after Saudis say attacks damaged tankers – MarketWatch”

  65. 65
    Cacti says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Their attack on the USS Liberty wasn’t particularly subtle.

  66. 66
    patrick II says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Tying the Pompeo/Brussels meeting together with Saudi false attack — they may have been trying to distract the diplomats trying to save the Iran Nuclear Treaty on the day of their meeting. The story will only be good for a short while, but someone may have hoped less would get done by the diplomats in Brussels.

  67. 67
    Jay C says:

    @Raoul:

    “Oil prices climb after Saudis say attacks damaged tankers – MarketWatch”

    What a coincidence…..

  68. 68
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Jay:

    Bolton’s unsubstatiated claims

    Has he ever made any other kind?

    Steve in Al Qarana

    ETA: I have an alibi, by the way

  69. 69
    The Moar You Know says:

    While Israel is no doubt technically capable of this kind of sabotage, they’re usually much more professional about it. This “attack” looks like that of a rank amateur.

    @TenguPhule: Someone paid for Steven Spielberg and got James O’Keefe instead. As you note, this is the work of absolute low-dollar incompetents.

  70. 70
    Hoodie says:

    @Jay C: And potentially destabilizing in an overheated market built on truckloads of debt. IIRC, the 2008 crises seemed to be somewhat triggered by rising oil prices, as the need to cover obligations for real things like oil or food can start a chain reaction in a web of speculative deals on real estate and ephemera derived therefrom. Trump is a fucking pyromaniac who is enabling other pyromaniacs like bin Salman.

  71. 71
    Jay says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    Do you?

    We don’t have any specific details on anything, and you do own a can opener.

  72. 72
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @germy: Sounds to me like the Euros are overthinking Pompero. I am sure he just wanted a photo with the Europeans to wave at Trump.

  73. 73
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Damn. Jimmy Carter fell this morning and broke his hip. He’s recovering from surgery now, according to a statement from The Carter Center.

    Wishing him a full, speedy, and comfortable recovery. But damn.

  74. 74
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @J R in WV:

    After the humiliation of losing to a Marine general, the Joint Chiefs restricted the available strategy and tactics, restarted the game by “refloating” their fleet, and then the Blue Group won after the Marine General resigned. But in the real world there are no artificial restrictions on unconventional strategy and tactics…

    Let us first take a moment to consider the Japanese Imperial Navy was widely criticized for voiding a surprise attack on their carriers in a wargame that was part of the planing for the Battle of Midway, in which the US Navy surprised the IJN carriers in pretty much the way it happened in the wargame.

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    They don’t care because folks back here will believe that they’re really loved & respected hated and feared.

    Fix’d that for you. They don’t actually want love and respect, at least not how normal people think of it. They think that love = submission and fear = respect, because that’s what their fucked up “conservative” culture tells them.

    They genuinely do. not. understand. the love and respect that Obama got because it’s outside of their experience. If Daddy isn’t hitting you, how can you know he really loves you?

  76. 76
    Immanentize says:

    @Kent:

    So who thinks this might be some sort of plot to spike oil prices?

    First reported on Sputnik….

    Also, don’t forget the completely fabricated Saudi/UAE events against Qatar because — reasons….

  77. 77
    Immanentize says:

    @Steve in the ATL: That kind of post will get you arrested, young Steve in

  78. 78
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Immanentize: I won’t even mention the “cumin” and “saffron” I bought at the souk today.

    Inshallah, I will be let back into the USA in a few days….

  79. 79
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Immanentize: @Jay: I had to download and use WhatsApp to communicate with our tour guides, so allah knows how many watch lists I’m on now. And don’t even mention my alcohol consumption during Ramadan and, even worse, the fact that I feel no guilt about it whatsoever.

    #Whiskeypalian

  80. 80
    Immanentize says:

    @J R in WV: I remember that wargame well — the Blues thought they would crush because they jammed the airwaves and took out all satellite communication. Van Riper used men on horses to communicate plans for Red. So, after kicking their asses — which just cannot happen — the game was changed to secure the win for team Blue! USA USA USA!

  81. 81
    Immanentize says:

    @Steve in the ATL:
    Spice, Spice Baby!

  82. 82
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Rand Careaga:
    Sean Connery wasn’t one of those actors known for their skill with accents. Everyone he played sounded like a Scotsman.

  83. 83
    Jay says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Except Scotsmen,…….

  84. 84
    laura says:

    Someone needs to check and see if Bolton’s got a boner. If he does, the jig is up, his decades long desire for war with Iran is within…….sight?

  85. 85
    Yutsano says:

    @Steve in the ATL: @Immanentize: Za’atar or GTFO.

  86. 86
    Jay says:

    @laura:

    Nope.

    Fleet deployment was normally scheduled showing of the Flag, first announced before April.

    The 4 B52’s are supporting operations in Iraq, Shria snd Afghanistan.

    The US has 15,000 lightly armed Ground Forces deployable to Iran, (6,000 scheduled to go to the Messican Border),

    Iraq told Boulton and Pompeo to “fuck off”,

    The UAE and the Sawdi’s are little bit busy in Yemen and Libya, failing, flailing and arming and training terrorists.

  87. 87

    @Mnemosyne:

    Fix’d that for you. They don’t actually want love and respect, at least not how normal people think of it. They think that love = submission and fear = respect, because that’s what their fucked up “conservative” culture tells them.

    They genuinely do. not. understand. the love and respect that Obama got because it’s outside of their experience. If Daddy isn’t hitting you, how can you know he really loves you?

    I am quoting your entire comment because I have lived among these people and you have nailed it. This is how they think. They amend all facts they receive to match this theory, because nothing else makes any sense to them.

  88. 88
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @germy: In 90s MichaelSavage constantly attacked Europe, talked about ‘euro trash’.

    In same period Pentecostals and Evangelicals constantly heard and repeated that Europeans weren’t Christians, were no longer part of ‘Christian Civilization/Heritage

  89. 89
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    The amount of barnacles in Jay’s first link astounds me. Has that ship even moved in a very long time?
    A well used tanker would have some barnacles sure but that level would slow it down significantly and use a lot more fuel. which would increase the cost of operation a lot. Something smells extremely fishy on many counts.

  90. 90
    Tehanu says:

    @CliosFanBoy: @Cacti: Reichstag Fire, my first thought. Aaaaghhh!

  91. 91
    Ken_L says:

    The pretext for war has to be obviously phony enough for the cult to “own the libtards”, while being simultaneously plausible enough to let Republicans claim in the Senate it justifies hostilities. It’s a tricky needle to thread but I’m confident Bolton and Pompeo can pull it off.

  92. 92
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Yutsano: don’t be posting Muslim brotherhood code words here!

Comments are closed.