Analyzing Intelligence

What is given to us is behind a veil, we accept that and at times we accept that the media does not give us everything. It is however weird when the change is slightly larger than we expected and in a direction we did not see coming.

This all started almost three days ago when Iran ended up with a tanker, the news (several sources) gave us: “Tracking data shows an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago, raising concerns Tuesday about its status amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S.” we all have issues and we all thought about the big bad Iranian doing things that are unacceptable. In light of everything that happened, this is a fair point of view to have (you know that Iranian tanker in Gibraltar).

Yet now, CNN gives us (at https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/18/middleeast/iran-tanker-intl/index.html) “Iran has seized an oil tanker it claimed was carrying 1 million litres of “smuggled fuel,” state news agency Press TV said on Thursday, before later releasing a video purporting to show the tanker.” we all want to think the worst of Iran (still a valid point of thought), yet that premise changes when we also get the following quotes: “US intelligence have been investigating what happened to the Panamanian-flagged tanker M/T RIAH. The ship-tracking website Marine Vessel Traffic has not had a current location for the tanker since July 7“, as well as “It remains unclear who owns the ship. While the initial US intelligence suggested that the tanker was UAE-owned, the United Arab Emirates has said that the tanker in question was “neither owned nor operated by the UAE. It does not carry Emirati personnel, and did not emit a distress call,” according to state-run WAM

And now we have an actual problem

To begin with, with all the digital options, and registries we get: ‘It remains unclear who owns the ship‘ are you flipping kidding me? In a time when both the Sea of Dammam, as well as the Strait of Hormuz are an absolute tinderbox, you have no idea what is going in and out of that place, you cannot tell who owns a million litre tanker? This is not some $27,000 Glastron poaching lobsters, too small to be seen by radar, this is a piece of metal the size of 500 40 feet containers this puppy is really visible! So not only does it imply the incompetence of the CIA, it shows that there is a larger facilitation at play.

When we consider the political and intelligence pressures in the Middle East as they are presently presented; the quote: ‘The ship-tracking website Marine Vessel Traffic has not had a current location for the tanker since July 7‘ reads like an absolute joke. When we consider intelligence pressure, the CIA, DGSE, MI-6 and optionally Mossad should have had an alert within 24 hours that any tanker vanishes. More important depending on where that happened red flags should have been raised all over the place and now that we see: “US intelligence suggested that the tanker was UAE-owned, the United Arab Emirates has said that the tanker in question was “neither owned nor operated by the UAE. It does not carry Emirati personnel, and did not emit a distress call” we see a much larger failing. There are programs in place to check ships registries, there are systems that can check the moment any blip is added or removed on the website Marine Vessel Traffic (and several places alike), in addition the fact that the UAE now gives us that an apparent UAE ship is not and neither does it have UAE staff is a failing on several fronts. I personally wonder what excuse Lloyds registry gives us soon enough. We cannot fault them for not being aware of facts, but the fact that a ship of this size cannot be identified as being owned is a failing, it is a tactical one to a much larger degree.

Overreacting much?

Is it? when we see the attacks in Yemen and other places, we see a tanker that could do massive damage to any harbour and for 9 days we had no clue that something was wrong, perhaps we did not care, but consider that a tanker like this could destroy in several ways a harbour and the environment in either Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar or the UAE, yes that is a large issue. A floating fuel bomb (a slight exaggeration) with one million litres of oil is a large issue. At the top of my head, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riffa, Manama, Dammam, Kuwait city, as well as several Iranian villages, any of them could have been a target leaving any of these places in ruins for at least a decade. So yes, the intelligence community failed, moreover, at present with the presented awareness the IRGC did nothing wrong. The fact that in opposition the stage where US intelligence has nothing credible to offer is a larger failing still (yes more to come).

You are who?

When we consider that awareness of Panamanian-flagged oil tanker MT Riah could have been found in minutes is one part, the fact that the implied owner UAE is not gives us a larger doubt on intelligence data. Now data is dependent on vetting and checks and we cannot check it all, yet when we consider the registry, the owner was someone, who is not implies it was sold, so basically 40 hours ago, that part could have been verified and none of that seems to be the case (or it is classified beyond my eyes, which is weird, right?)

So for no less than 35 hours certain escalations seem to have been the case and CNN ignored that part, which might be a valid embargo, these things happen, yet the global news is propagating facts that are not and facts that are nowhere and none of it has any validation. This now sets a larger stage, in the eyes of the world Iran did nothing wrong (which does actually happen), but this floating tinderbox should have received a lot more visibility with credible and verified data, which is not the case and a lot of missing data in the last 24 hours ago implies that there is a path and that path is about something we are not informed on (which is still valid and credible) but in light of the fact that only 5 hours ago Reuters merely mulls data that has been known for well over 36 hours implies that there is a larger play and for whatever reason we see the absence of awareness by the news and those claiming to inform us leave us with the stage of “Iranian state TV aired footage of a vessel called “RIAH” that it said was seized by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards for smuggling fuel” and was all they gave us 5 hours ago, whilst I gave a dedicated list of actions that could have been followed up on by actual journalists in the three minutes it took me to digest the data available. Is that not weird?

It gets to be worse

That is seen when we look at UK Reuters. We search of all news gives us: ‘US demands Iran free seized ship, vows to protect Gulf oil lifeline, In-Depth-Reuters UK‘ a mere three hours ago, yet the article it links to is all about ‘U.S. says Navy ship ‘destroyed’ Iranian drone in Gulf‘, something here does not belong, this is not a simple error and Reuters does not usually make these kinds of blunders, this is about something more and even as we all want to point fingers at Iran, we now have a larger stage and the US loss of credibility (that famous silver suitcase) gives us more to worry about, this is a set stage of pushing awareness and whilst the Europeans are all about saving a nuclear deal and the fact that (what I predicted) the surpassed transgressions of Iran on nuclear terms are now trivialised imply that there is a theatre going on, I merely wonder who the players are an which government ends up playing the court jester.

We might think about trivialising the entire matter, but consider that the ship optionally was smuggling merely $250K in crude oil, someone is not really getting rich, not in the larger scheme of things, so what was this actually about? Is it not interesting on how the media is not all over this, especially as it could escalate gulf pressures to a much larger degree?

 

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Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics

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