Paper Tigers

Paper Tigers

Straits of HormuzAs the Marshall Island flagged cargo ship Maersk Tigris made its way down the Straits of Hormuz she was challenged by Iran warships and ordered to stop.  When the Captain failed to comply the Iranians fire several rounds across her bow.  The Captain of the Tigrus reluctantly complied and the ship was “escorted” to the Iranian island of Qesham where the ship and crew was interned.  In any other reality this would be considered an act of piracy and dealt with by force but not this time.

Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steven Warren, said “The Marshall Islands is under a “free association compact” with Washington.  That “compact” means the US has sole responsibility for international defense of the Marshall Islands in return for exclusive military basing rights. The current compact expires in 2023.

So instead of the US sending an overwhelming force of US warships into the area we sent a single destroyer to “monitor” the situation while the Marshall Islands tried to resolve this peacefully.  In a statement, Maersk line said: “Our paramount concern is the safety and well-being of the crew. We are working in close dialogue with Rickmers Shipmanagement to obtain information about the seizure and explore options to help resolve this situation.”

Straits of Hormuz
Iranian Warship

The FARS News Agency said, “The cargo ship was seized at the request of Iran’s ports and maritime organization which is in a financial dispute with the owners of the Maersk Tigris.”  They quoted an unnamed source that said, “The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation.”

Only after the United States said its warships would now begin escorting all US and British flagged cargo ships through the Straits of Hormuz did the Iranians finally release the ship.

US cruisers on escort duty
US cruisers on escort duty

The Rickmers Group which was leasing the Maersk Tigrus said after the release, “Rickmers Group is pleased to report today its managed container vessel Maersk Tigris with 24 crewmembers on board has been officially released by Iranian authorities following an order from the court in Bandar Abbas, Iran,” said a statement released by the ship’s operator. “Earlier Maersk Line put up a security in relation to the underlying court case. All crew are in a good condition. The news has been conveyed to the families of the seafarers. The management of Rickmers Group and everyone in the company are delighted that the vessel is no longer held under Iranian control and its valued seafarers are able to resume their normal life and continue their voyage.”

Most believe this seizure was in retaliation for the US fleet turning around an Iranian naval and cargo fleet carrying weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen.   Any way you slice this it shows how the present administration is willing to allow countries like Iran, who pose no real military threat to the United States, to continually embarrass us in the eyes of the world.  Through all this, talks with Iran over scaling back their nuclear program continued.  As far as the administration is saying this incident was never brought up at the talks by Secretary of State Kerry.  My question is, “Why Not?”

The short answer is politics.  This was just another slap in the face of the US and quite frankly I think we have just about run out of cheek.  I think it is past time we stopped allowing these paper tiger countries to dictate terms to us.  This kind of policy has allowed people like Russian President Putin to invade the Ukraine, groups like Al Qaeda, ISIL, the problems in Yemen and Somalia to fester and spread like a malignant cancer.  In the end we have no one to blame but ourselves for all of this and if we ever hope to have any kind of peace in our time we need to take care of this problem and we need to do it now.

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