0430 GMT June 26, 2022
Following the Greek government’s seizure of a Russian-operated ship and confiscation of its Iranian oil cargo by the United States, it was quite anticipated that the move would elicit a reaction from the Islamic Republic in retaliation.
It did not take long before the predictions came true as the Iranian Armed Forces seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf on Friday.
Any analysis of the Greece’s action confirms the European state’s obsequiousness to the United States.
At present, different vessels and oil tankers navigate freely across the international waters either carrying cargos belonging to Iran or under the Islamic Republic’s flag from port to port, and yet such incidents do not take place.
The act of piracy by Greece in obedience to the United States and its policies implies that Athens sought to become closer to Washington at the expense of the Iranian nation and inflicting financial damage on the country. Naturally, when a government decides to pursue and enforce its policies using other nations’ resources and interests, it will have to expect reciprocal measures of the same or greater extents.
In other words, the Greeks can no longer seize Iranian assets and belongings and hand them over to the United States to ingratiate themselves with the Americans and rest assured that they will not receive any reaction from the Islamic Republic. The Greeks’ strategic mistake was their failure to learn the lesson from a similar action by London, with a much greater political weight compared to Athens, against Tehran some three years ago.
After its illegal seizure of a ship carrying Iran’s oil, London faced Tehran’s proportionate reprisal and eventually was compelled to release the vessel and its consignment despite U.S. will. What has at present unfolded on the ground is that Greece, with a lower position and political weight in the international system compared to Britain, has to pay a higher cost for its action against Iran as is manifest in the extent of the Islamic Republic’s retaliation.
Based on the law of the sea, countries are entitled to prevent navigation by vessels they deem detrimental to their interests in their territorial waters within a distance ranging from three to 12 miles from their coastlines.
As per the law, countries have the right to confiscate such vessels and punish their crew members. This is the same framework within which Iran seized the two Greek tankers carrying cargoes destined for the European state. More importantly, both ships and their consignments belong to Greece.
As a matter of fact, Greece has faced a punishment much severer than what it had anticipated. Iran’s action should not be seen as a retaliation, but a move with scopes far greater than those of a mere tit-for-tat. The Greeks seized the Iranian cargo onboard a ship operating under the flag of another country, but the Islamic Republic has confiscated two Greek vessels with Greek shipments onboard.
Currently, wisdom dictates that the Greek government should compensate for its wrongdoing, release the ship and its cargo and express its apologies to the Iranian government and people. If such a scenario unfolds, the Greeks can expect partial exemption from Iran’s punishment or even possibly see their tankers released.
Iran’s reaction to Greece’s move is a serious warning to any government seeking to act against the Islamic Republic’s interests. This is also a message to the entire world that the Iranian Armed Forces see themselves as the guardians of the national interests and people’s assets.