Israel, Washington, London, and now Bucharest: all have their eyes fixed on Tehran, which they accuse of having attacked last Thursday, about 200 km off the coast of the Sultanate of Oman, an oil vessel under the control of the Hebrew state.
The attack, which involves several states in the West and the Middle East, arouses strong tensions in the chanceries.
What happened ?
On Thursday, two crew members of the oil tanker M / T Mercer Street - one British and the other Romanian - died in the attack on the boat by at least one drone.
This attack took place while the tanker was sailing off the coast of Oman, in a maritime region strained by oil issues, in an even larger context of tedious talks on Iranian nuclear power.
M / T Mercer Street is owned by a wealthy Japanese man but is run by Zodiac Maritime, a British shipowner himself owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, billionaire ranked 197th richest person in the world by Forbes.
According to the New York Times, which quotes several Israeli sources on condition of anonymity, the attack was carried out by several Iranian drones.
What are the issues ?
This attack occurs in a tense context in the Middle East and falls "much more broadly in the context of the Iranian nuclear issue", describes Nawel El Ghiati, geopolitical analyst for the French Ministry of the Interior. As a reminder, since 2015, this agreement normally prevents Tehran from acquiring the atomic bomb, but the United States' exit from the agreement in 2018 has reshuffled the cards. Since then, Tehran has decided to withdraw from the deal, resulting in a
that resonates as a failure on the international stage. Discussions resumed in April in Vienna, but these are suspended upon the entry into office of the new Iranian president, the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raïssi, now imminent (Editor's note, it is expected Thursday).
In this context, according to observers, Iran has every interest in increasing the pressure to obtain a new favorable agreement from the United States, while Israel would instead aim for a failure of these negotiations. Their rivalry has recently taken to the sea, with a series of mysterious attacks on cargo ships and tankers. Iran thus wishes to establish its power against its best enemy, Israel, and to destabilize it, in a war which does not speak its name, and in which a response is equivalent to a response: “Iran intends
to defend itself
as Israel does. and by all means ”, analyzes Nawel El Ghiati, for whom however“ this attack is surely one too many, which will affect the resumption of negotiations around the issue of Iranian nuclear power ”.
Iranian nuclear deal signed by President Hassan Rohani (AFP / P.Pizarro / S.Huet / T.Saint-Cricq, tsq /)
“Iran, in turn, accuses Israel of having attacked its uranium enrichment centers and even of having assassinated certain scientists.
It should not be denied either that the two countries are seeking to assert their power through these acts in the region, ”adds Nawel El Ghiati.
The unclaimed drone attack makes it possible to retaliate "without however directly opening fire or triggering a direct war," explains the analysis.
The question is to know when the red line will be crossed and if a point of no return between the two powers can be crossed.
Who is implicated?
Israel, the United States and Great Britain jointly accuse Iran. On Sunday, the United States, "certain that Iran carried out the attack", threatened Tehran through its Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Washington occupies an important place in this file, "because the United States has a large maritime presence in the Gulf region, which can be seen as a threat to their military ships among others", explains Nawel El Ghiati . Consequence: Antony Blinken has promised an "appropriate response" to the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assured Sunday that the Hebrew state had "evidence" of Iranian involvement, which he then described as "an exporter of terrorism".
“I can say with absolute certainty that Iran carried out this attack on the ship (…) There is evidence of that,” he said.
From the day after the attack, Israel claimed to want to seize the UN, supported in this sense by Washington.
The United Kingdom, one of whose nationals was killed on the ship, considers that the deadly attack is "deliberate, targeted and illegal" and "calls on Iran to immediately cease its actions endangering the peace and regional and international security ”, summoned the British Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab.
UK believes the attack on MV MERCER STREET was carried out by Iran and was deliberate, targeted and unlawful.
The UK calls on Iran to immediately cease actions that risk regional & international peace & security.
Full statement⬇️https: //t.co/2hZAfoTqBZ
- Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) August 1, 2021
This Monday, Romania - also bereaved by the loss of one of its citizens - follows in the footsteps of the three allies.
"In the light of elements presented by our international partners indicating a deliberate attack coordinated by Iran, Romania demands that the Iranian authorities provide an explanation without delay," Bucharest said.
What does Tehran say?
Tehran denies any involvement and evokes "unfounded accusations" from its rivals.
An "ordinary position", according to Nawel El Ghiati, "in the same way as Israel on the previous attacks".
The only mention by Iranian state television refers to "informed sources in the region" according to which the attack was in response to a "recent Israeli attack" in Syria - where Tehran supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad - without giving more. details.
Is this kind of attack unprecedented?
No, this attack is not unprecedented.
"For several months now, the two countries have been clashing through acts of mutual sabotage at sea, commonly called
," explains Nawel El Ghiati.
In 2021, two ships operated by the Israeli company Ray Shipping have already been attacked and, in the opposing camp, an Iranian commercial vessel was targeted in April.
However, "the novelty of this attack remains its geographical location," continues Nawel El Ghiati.
Until then, this rivalry had been orchestrated more between Lebanon, Syria and Gaza.
Read alsoIran accuses Israel of attack on nuclear center and promises revenge
Since the attack, little information has filtered out on the fate of the oil tanker. At the latest news, communicated on Friday by the company Zodiac Maritime, it was sailing "under the control of its crew to a place of safety, with an American naval escort".