I am writing this piece on my return flight from Washington. Coincidentally, I was visiting the U.S. capital while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran. I planned to focus this week on his historic trip to Iran, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in 41 years. As usual, however, something unexpected happened again in the Middle East.

Norwegian and Japanese tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz. While the perpetrators are still unknown, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last Thursday, "It is the assessment of the U.S. government that the Islamic Republic of Iran was responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today." Pompeo also said the assessment was based on "the intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication."

Those who know the Middle East and the U.S. government would not automatically believe such remarks anymore because when it comes to the issues in the region, everyone knows that nothing can be taken at face value. Those alleged attacks by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) maritime units are no exception.