Pompeo's hasty finger-pointing shows belligerence: Think-tank director

New York, June 16, IRNA – US accusations against Iran regarding the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman shows that the White House is teeming with "war hawks", Director Middle East-Asia Project (MAP) John Calabrese told IRNA on Sunday.

"In my opinion, Secretary Pompeo missed an opportunity to avoid further escalation of the level of tension," said Calabrese.

Regarding the timing of the attacks, he said that it is questionable that this happens at the time of Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's visit to Tehran, adding, "It seems likely that this operation was aimed to thwart the efforts made for deescalation."

Calabrese said, " Pompeo could have tempered his accusation by emphasizing that he was in possession of preliminary information. He could have waited to issue simultaneously the statement and the CENTCOM video, and committed to independent verification."

"Even if Tehran had wanted to scuttle PM Abe's presumed peacemaking mission, why it may have conducted such a risky, provocative operation to do so? And if Tehran were seeking to persuade Japan to buy more oil and/or do more to make that possible, why it may have mounted such an attack?"

The director of MAP said that Japan has been tethered to the Middle East for decades as the result of its heavy dependence on the region's energy resources.

He said that Japan's interest in Iran derives primarily from these broader energy security needs, adding, "Japan has also regarded Iran as a potentially profitable trading partner and investment destination, given the latter's capacity and strategic location."

The analyst of Asian issues said that Iran and its Persian Gulf neighbors are vitally important economic partners for Japan and the US is its foremost security partner; therefore, "the ideal situation for Tokyo is one in which Washington and Tehran reach a settlement."

It is the worst-case scenario for Tokyo to see the US and Iran stumble into conflict, said Calabrese.

Answering a question about a Japanese prime minister's visit to Iran that took place after four decades, he said that the trip tells us something about Abe and the evolution of Japanese foreign policy.

"Under Abe's stewardship, Japan is raising its profile internationally -- being more assertive on the domain of diplomacy."

He added, "As the trip took place shortly after the Abe-Trump summit, it suggests that Japan's diplomatic initiative took place with Mr. Trump's blessing, or at least with his tacit approval."

He also said that Abe and Japan are perhaps the most trustworthy third-party actor in the high-tension standoff between Washington and Tehran.

"It is at least conceivable that this "backchannel" could produce a face-saving way for the US and Iran to enter talks of their own. But even if Abe's trip does not lead to either an ease of tension or diplomatic breakthrough, it places him and Japan in a positive and constructive spotlight."

Two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. The US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo hurriedly accused Iran of the attacks but didn’t offer any evidence.

Mousavi said in reaction to the charges made by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on Friday: "The responsibility for the security of the Strait of Hormuz lies with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and we showed that we were able to rescue the sailors of the ship as soon as possible."

He added that apparently, for Mr. Pompeo and other US officials, it's so easy to accuse Iran of a suspicious and unfortunate incident for the oil tankers.

"While the Japanese prime minister is visiting Iran's Leader to reduce tensions, which secret hands seek to influence these efforts in the region and who benefits from it?!"

This was the second time that oil tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf area. On June 13, two oil tankers were targeted at a subversive attack in Oman Sea, after which some media outlets were seeking a cause and some government officials also made charges about.


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