The British navy says of Tuesday’s hijacking of a ship off in the Gulf of Oman, following a loss of steering control reported by at least six ships in the area, that the “incident [is] complete.” Clearly, it isn’t. The armed hijackers who boarded the Panama-flagged asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess on Tuesday evening and directed it to sail toward Iran, have now left the ship. But the incident raises significant questions. Were the hijackers backed by Iran, as is widely believed in the West? What was the purpose of this high-stakes move? Why did they target these particular ships? How did they disable the steering on multiple ships simultaneously? How will the hijacking affect the ongoing exchange of attacks between Israel and Iran and its proxy forces throughout the region, and the negotiations over a renewed nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers? US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that there has been “a very disturbing pattern of belligerence from Iran” but said added, “When it comes to this specific incident, it’s too early for us to offer a judgment just yet.” Stay tuned, because, while the hijacking may be over, the story is sure to continue to unfold.
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