As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo railed against Iran in the wake of the attack Thursday on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, he also blamed the nation for a recent assault in Afghanistan claimed by the Taliban.
The Trump administration’s credibility is a key factor as Americans and the leaders of other nations weigh blame for the tanker attacks.
U.S. Central Command said that the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese Kokura Courageous were attacked by limpet mines, which are attached to ships below the water line. The military released a video that officials claimed showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the Courageous.
The president of the company that owns the Courageous, however, said Friday there were reports of something that “flew towards the ship” before the blast. He discounted American reports of a sea mine.
Iran has denied any involvement in the tanker attacks.
Many experts say it’s too soon to say for certain who was responsible for the incident. Others suspect Iran launched the attack in response to the U.S., under President Donald Trump, pulling out of the nuclear pact with Tehran and engaging in months of provocative criticism, sanctions and calls for regime change.
In the violence in Kabul broached by Pompeo, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a U.S.convoy on May 31 that killed four Afghan pedestrians and wounded four American servicemen and at least three civilians. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid boasted of the attack in a phone call with The Associated Press.
But on Thursday, as Pompeo slammed Iran, he called the Kabul bombing one of “a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests,” the Post reported.
The characterization of the Kabul attack as linked to Iran surprised experts and a former U.S. diplomat, the Post reported. Besides the Taliban’s claim of responsibility, they said it would be unusual for Iran to launch an attack inside Kabul.
“If there was clearly a belief that Iran had hit troops in Afghanistan, it would have been huge news right away,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center’s Asia program, told the Post.
“This administration is itching for a fight with Iran,” he said. “Unfortunately, that sometimes entails making some accusations against Iran that are somewhat questionable.”
Pompeo has a “long list of grievances” against Iran, Alex Vatanka, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told the Post.