US-Iranian Gulf incident: 'Part of games played during tense political situations'

US-Iranian Gulf incident: 'Part of games played during tense political situations'
Nobody in Washington seems to ask what the US is doing in the Persian Gulf and how other powers perceive its intentions, former US diplomat Jim Jatras said commenting on a US ship firing warning shots at an Iranian boat that approached it.

Iran accused the US Navy of provocative behavior, as an American patrol boat fired warning shots in the direction of an Iranian vessel during an encounter in the Persian Gulf.

However, the US says the Iranian ship was acting dangerously and carrying out an 'unsafe' maneuver.

Former US diplomat Jim Jatras says it is hard to say what exactly what is going on without more precise information about the location.

“I noticed every time one of these incidents takes place, whether it is this one in the Persian Gulf, or whether it is the one we’ve seen between American and Russian planes in the Baltic and the Black Sea, or with the Chinese recently. They always give us very sketchy information about where exactly it happened. In this case, it doesn’t appear that this was inside Iranian waters unlike the case in January of 2016, where some American boats evidently entered into Iranian waters, and we had a very nasty incident there. This one seems to have been near Iranian waters, but I don’t know how close to Iranian waters, and what the intentions of the Iranian boat were in challenging the Americans. It would be nice to have more information about this,” he told RT.

The diplomat also said the incident took place not off American territorial waters, but in the “international waters in the northern Arabian Gulf,” which is the Pentagon’s preferred term for the Persian Gulf.

“This is not a Russian, Chinese, or Iranian ship or plane challenging [the US] 14 miles off of San Diego. This is an American ship right outside the territorial waters of another power with which we don’t have particularly good relations. And the other power then challenges the American presence. Sometimes they do that in an overly aggressive or overly zealous way that maybe creates some kind of danger, and that is what the Americans were responding to,” Jatras said.

However, he added, “we need to roll it back and ask the initial question: what were we doing there? What were our intentions, and how were they perceived by the other side? Nobody in Washington ever seems to ask those questions”.

According to Jatras, when American warships come close to territorial waters of other countries – such as Iran, Russia or China – it is reasonable for those countries to be concerned.

“It doesn’t mean that the actions of those countries are always necessarily reasonable. I do think sometimes they are treated with alarmism in the American media. For example, we hear that Russian plane or Chinese plane, or Iranian boat has behaved in a very dangerous way, and maybe they have in some cases. But on the other hand, sometimes they have not,” he said.

“Look, my father is a retired fighter pilot – I discussed this with him. This is the kind of thing that happened all the time during the Cold War, where Russian, or in those cases Soviet planes and American planes would challenge each other in areas that were sensitive. That is, unfortunately, the part of brinkmanship and games that get played during very tense political situations, but they are very dangerous games,” Jatras told RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.