Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, publicly recognized Ebrahim Raisi as the country’s future president on Tuesday, awaiting his inauguration on Thursday. The ceremony took place amid mounting fears about rising tensions between the Islamic Republic and its regional and Western allies.
The risk posed by that belligerence was highlighted a week before Raisi’s inauguration when Tehran’s practice of naval harassment resulted in the first deaths. In the Gulf of Oman last Thursday, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle dropped an explosive payload on an oil tanker, killing two crew members, one British and the other Romanian.
This connection is widely thought to have played a role in the Islamic Republic’s apparent targeting of it.
The US State Department and a number of other Western organizations have voiced their strong belief that Iran was behind the attack, which used a weapon that Iran has been employing with increasing frequency.
Another tanker was boarded near the UAE port of Fujairah on Tuesday, reportedly by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), adding to the evidence that Tehran was responsible.
Iranian officials have sought to deny that their regime was responsible for both occurrences, but these denials seem especially unlikely in light of the fact that the crew of the tanker MV Asphalt Princess was deliberately told to cruise into Iran’s port and be held there.
The ship was returned without incident the next day, but the seizure most certainly served as a forewarning to the world community of more harm and possibly more casualties to come during the Raisi era.
When reflecting on the fatal incident with the Mercer Street the day before, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken attempted to downplay this expectation, noting that it occurred under the supervision of the outgoing presidential administration and did not necessarily reflect the Raisi administration’s emerging plans.
It was unclear how this viewpoint fared in the aftermath of the second incident, but some of Blinken’s subsequent comments were harshly critical of the Iranian regime.
He noted that the Mercer Street incident was part of a larger trend of Arab and Western nations, as well as Israel, engaging in hostile behavior and attempting to intimidate Israel. This shows that “Iran continues to act with tremendous irresponsibility when it comes to, in this case, threats to navigation, commerce, and innocent sailors who are simply engaged in commercial transit in international waters,” according to Blinked.
While others, including the US State Department, have been hesitant of putting the recent occurrences on Raisi in particular, few have been afraid to throw fingers at the regime or to call for a significant international response to the rising threat.
Following up on a letter signed by officials of the United Kingdom and many other countries, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made a call to action for the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday
That tone is expected to deepen once the new president takes office unless the Islamic Republic abandons its confrontational position in the face of substantial consequences for the previous week’s acts.