U.S. could stumble into a war with Iran, allies tell Mike Pompeo

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 14, 2019

"Reports on Sunday of explosions in Fujairah are likely to add further impetus to a potentially growing risk premium in the region, with initial reports suggesting oil tankers specifically were targeted in an apparent sabotage", Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy said. That was about 30% of crude and other oil liquids traded by sea in 2016.

The US issued a new warning to sailors as the UAE's regional allies condemned Sunday's alleged attack that the UAE says targeted four ships off the coast of its port city of Fujairah.

The attacks come amid rising tensions in the Middle East region over new US sanctions against Iran.

"This attack. aims to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world", Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement".

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the incidents "worrisome and dreadful", and asked for an investigation into aspects of the matter.

The increasing tensions come as Teheran said last Wednesday (May 8) it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers.

The narrow waterway forms a crucial link between the vast oil reserves of the Gulf states and the energy-hungry markets of Asia, and there are nearly no alternate throughways.

Have there been in incidents in the strait before?

The White House said that move was aimed at countering "clear indications" of threats from Iran to its forces there. Tehran said it was a deliberate attack.

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdul Latif Al-Zayani said said the attack "would increase tensions and conflict in the region and jeopardize the interests of their peoples".

- In early 2008, the United States said Iranian boats threatened its warships after they approached three USA naval ships in the Strait. A militant group called Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were attacked while sailing toward the Persian Gulf, adding to regional tensions as the US increases pressure on Iran. It also seized a container ship in the Strait. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz or attack ships passing through it to disrupt the world's oil supply in retaliation for USA sanctions against Iranian oil.

But the accusations immediately sparked fears of an escalation between the US, whose Fifth Fleet in Bahrain protects commercial ships in the strait, and Iran, which borders it. Relations between the two countries are already strained due to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw waivers that had blunted the impact of renewed sanctions on Iran.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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