WaPo Reporter Backtracks After Tweeting Trump ‘Failed’ to Heed Tanker Warning

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• June 13, 2019 1:15 pm


Washington Post reporter had to explain Thursday she wasn't blaming the Trump administration for not heeding past Iranian warnings ahead of a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The attacks followed a similar incident last month, when four tankers were attacked, also near the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for the attacks in May; Iran has denied responsibility.

Washington Post Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly tweeted Thursday, "Big escalation in the Persian Gulf. Two oil tankers struck and on fire in the Strait of Hormuz, focus of US-Iran tensions. Comes after Trump failed to heed the last tanker warning & imposed more sanctions."

After drawing criticism for her use of the word "failed,"—suggesting Trump should have given into blackmail—Sly tweeted she had used the wrong word.

"Could be ‘didn't' or ‘refused'. Or simply ‘Comes after the last warning was followed by new sanctions'. No intent to blame anyone, just describing a sequence," she wrote. She later added, "I posted a clarification to this but it seems people didn't see it. I meant failed to only in the sense of ‘didn't.' Or simply ‘It comes after the last warning was followed by new sanctions'. No intent to blame anyone, just describing a sequence."

The Trump administration has taken steps to squeeze Iran following its decision to pull out of the Obama-era nuclear deal, with sanctions suffocating the Iranian economy.

After the U.S. said it received intelligence about a possible Iranian attack on American personnel and facilities in the Middle East, Trump deployed the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and a strike group to the Persian Gulf to deter any aggression. That led to a liberal outcry that Trump was girding for war with Iran.

Sly's newspaper reported last week on a wealthy Iraqi sheikh "who advocates war with Iran" that spent nearly a month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

U.S. officials are pointing the finger at Iran for the latest apparent attack. Iran Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif said U.S. sanctions were to blame for the conflict between the two countries and tweeted the timing of the attack was "suspicious." One of the ships in the attack was Japanese-owned, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Thursday with the goal of defusing tensions between the U.S. and Iran.