Israel's seizure of an Iranian cargo ship carrying weapons this week should be a wake-up call. It's the same, old bad behavior.
On Wednesday, March 5, Israel seized a cargo vessel carrying high-trajectory weapons from Iran to Gaza. According to the Guardian, the weapons the Iranian vessel was shuttling came from Syria: "the weapons were flown from Damascus to Tehran, then shipped from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas." Setting aside for the moment the political implications of this ship's trajectory or the origin of its cargo, the Israeli capture of this freighter is reminiscent of similar episode -- the seizure of the Karine A in January 2002, a vessel bound for Palestinian ports carrying weapons for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat facilitated by Hezbollah and Iran. That episode would have huge consequences for U.S. policy in the Middle East. It's unlikely that this week's raid (which took place on the Red Sea "hundreds of miles from Israel") will have as deep an impact as the seizure of 2002. But it is a cautionary tale, one that illuminates the risks Washington takes when it conducts business with partners (in this case Iran), who do not share its interests.