Bloomberg ran an opinion piece Thursday suggesting that the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf were false-flag operations meant to frame Iran.
"Iran Has Little to Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks," read the headline from Bloomberg oil strategist Julian Lee.
"Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn’t responsible, it will still suffer the consequences," he wrote.
Lee then goes on to admit, "Who gains from these attacks? The obvious answer is Iran. If Tehran is attacking tankers leaving the Persian Gulf — either directly, or through proxies — it sends a message that transit through the world’s most important choke point for global oil flows is not safe without its consent."
Still, he writes, the attack also benefits "the people who want to see the U.S. step up its campaign against Iran and move from an economic war to a military one. There are plenty of those, both in the U.S. and among its allies in the Persian Gulf and wider Middle East regions.
Lee wrote that "the timing of the attacks also raises questions" given that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting Tehran at the same time a Japanese ship was attacked.
"This would seem very clumsy timing from a country seeing the first tangible signs of any easing of the crippling sanctions imposed by the Americans. But it is absolutely understandable if you’re someone whose ultimate goal is to derail any easing of tensions between the two nations, and to effect regime change in Tehran. Whoever is behind the attacks is no friend of Iran."
After publication, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that intelligence indicated Iran was responsible for attacking the tankers. A day later, the U.S. released video of an Iranian vessel approaching one of the tankers and removing an unexploded mine near the damage in the hull.