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Calming of troubled waters

Jul 16,2019 - Last updated at Jul 16,2019

It has been reported that British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in recent days to assure him that the seized oil tanker, Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar could be free to go if there are adequate assurances that Syria is not its final destination. 

Hunt maintains that London is concerned about the suspected shipment of oil to Syria as it violates the sanctions enforced by the EU against Damascus.

Somehow this "narrative" does not add up given the fact that US President Donald Trump is trying to prevent Tehran from profiting off the oil shipments that would bankroll its aggressive regional policies. 

London is weary about further escalation of tension with Tehran in the wake of the seizure of Grace 1. The UK fears the seizure of its own oil tankers, crossing the Strait of Hormuz, by Iranian naval units, as Tehran has indeed threatened to do if the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 is not released. 

To take Hunt's new narrative at face value would suggest that London and Washington are not on the same wavelength when it comes to Iranian oil, something which is hard to believe. It is doubtful that London seeks to distance itself from Washington's stance on Iran at this critical juncture.  Whatever the case, what is more important is the fact that Grace 1 can be expected to be freed soon and its oil cargo would be sold elsewhere in the world other than Syria. 

British diplomacy is a master of the art of the possible and the way the seized oil tanker is being handled by London reinforces the conviction that the UK is not seeking any confrontation with Iran after all. 

This easing of tensions in the Gulf region could be the harbinger of more confidence-building policies and measures spearheaded by London in the region.

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