Details are still coming in, but it seems clear that the Iranian Navy seized a container ship called the Maersk Tigris that was transiting the Strait of Hormuz this morning. The ship, flagged in the Marshall Islands and owned by a Danish conglomerate, was traveling on an internationally recognized shipping route when it was approached by Iranian vessels that ordered it to “proceed further” into Iranian waters. The captain refused, and the Iranian vessels fired warning shots. The captain then “complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island,” according to a Pentagon spokesman. The Iranians have boarded the ship.
Repeated concessions by the Obama administration during ongoing nuclear talks with Iran have all but guaranteed that the Islamic Republic will emerge as a nuclear threshold state that could build a weapon with little effort, according to arms control experts who testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
A feature of policymaking in the Age of Obama is this administration’s habitual, reflexive dishonesty with the American people. For yet another example, consider how the White House downplays Iran’s role in the fighting in Yemen, even as the U.S. Navy monitors an Iranian flotilla reportedly steaming to the assistance of Houthi rebels. Spokesmen for the Navy are falling over themselves to note that they are only there to track the activity, and that they have no authority to board the Iranian ships.
The Iran-backed Houthi insurgency is a problem for Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran because it highlights how the Iranians are opposed to the interests of traditional U.S. partners in the region, like the now displaced government of Yemen and its allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It also clearly demonstrates how Iran’s actions harm U.S. counter-terror efforts that rely on these traditional partners. So what does the White House do? It starts pushing the line that the Houthis aren’t actually Iranian proxies after all. Take this leak, published yesterday in the Huffington Post: