Iranian hardliner journalists and analysts have been suggesting this week that Iran should attack Saudi and UAE interests in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, attributing the UAE and Saudi attacks to "Islamic Resistance".
The sinister suggestions were made as international media were bubbling with the news of mysterious attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf region.
Sa'dullah Zare’i, a hardliner analysts wrote in an article for the Kayhan newspaper, affiliated with the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday 13 May that Iran should "impose a cost on the United States so that America's economic war would not be unilateral" any longer.
In the Kayhan article, Zare’i wrote that Iran has three different capabilities it can use in its confrontation with the United States: "economic attack, military attack and psychological warfare."
He then opined that Iran is in a better position "to strike America on the economic ground" and suggested that "Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates depend on the United States" for their security and at the same time, they are acting as "oil reservoirs" for America.
Both of those countries, wrote Zare’i, depend on two things: "Oil and spectacular buildings with glass facades on the coasts of the Gulf and the Red Sea," alluding to their vulnerabilities.
The analyst asked why Iran allows those two countries to run their economic affairs and trade in a normal fashion while Iran is suffering from the impact of sanctions. Instead, he suggested, "Iran should give hard blows to these two countries' capability to export their oil," reminding that oil is the lifeline of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Zare’i added that attacks on the two countries can take place in the Indian Ocean or the Red Sea, adding that not only such measures will not lead to a war, because the United States will not rush to defend them, but the attacks can prompt Saudi Arabia and the UAE leaders to make peace with Iran as they are not capable of confronting Iran militarily.
Meanwhile, other hardliner Iranian journalists were suggesting the same kind of threats, occasionally even more transparently.
On May 12, Amin Arabshahi, the bureau chief of IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim in Mashad wrote in a tweet that the blasts in Fujairah were carried out by "Islamic Resistance guys", the jargon Iran uses to allude to militant Lebanese, Palestinian and Iraqi militia.
Arabshahi later deleted the tweet and references to his job in his profile, but Twitter users captured both before he deleted the gaffe.
Also on May 14, Hamed Rahimpour, the editor of the International Newsdesk of hardline daily Khorassan, wrote in a tweet: "All of our options are on the table," adding that the ports of Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, "Have been hit."
Unlike Arabshahi, Rahimpour not only has not deleted his tweet and profile, but added more hardline tweets reflecting the same line of thought. He names Yanba, Fujairah and Golan as theaters for the war against Iran.
Whether these bold expressions are the result of surging satisfaction at the attacks on tankers near UAE and oil installations in Saudi Arabia, or are deliberate signalling of Tehran’s ability to wreak havoc, is hard to tell. But this kind of boastfulness is not going to help Iran’s case in deflecting possible accusations of responsibility in dangerous provocations.