Four ships have been the target of mysterious “sabotage” off the Emirates, according to Ryad and Abu Dhabi, causing rising tensions in the Gulf when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses Iran in Brussels .
“I told him clearly that we are concerned about the tensions in the region and that we do not want an escalation,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas after meeting Pompeo. relaying similar remarks made earlier in the day by his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt.
Earlier Monday, the Saudi Arabian authorities reported “sabotage acts” that damaged two Saudi ships off the UAE the day before. In both cases, these are countries close to the United States, which have just strengthened their military presence in the Gulf in the context of the Iranian file.
“Two Saudi oil companies were sabotaged in the United Arab Emirates’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coast of the emirate of Fujairah as they were about to enter the country. Gulf of Arabia, “said Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.
On Sunday, after denying an incident in a port, the UAE finally reported “sabotage” against four commercial ships of different nationalities east of the Emirate of Fujairah, without identifying the perpetrators but citing a “serious” event.
An Emirati government official said on Monday that the boats in question were two Saudi tankers, Al Marzoqah and Amjad, a Norwegian, Andrea Victory, and an Emirati freighter, A. Michel.
A photo, provided by the UAE government, showed the damaged hull of the Andrea Victory.
Thome, which chartered the tanker, said it had been “hit by an indeterminate object.” The crew is safe and sound and the ship is not threatening to sink, it says in a statement.
In Tehran, the Iranian authorities have called for the opening of an investigation.
“These incidents in the Arabian Sea are alarming and regrettable,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi, warning against “foreign adventurism” to destabilize the region.
“The investigation will be conducted in a professional manner,” said Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash. “The facts will be clearly stated,” he promised, pointing out that Abu Dhabi already had “its own reading and conclusions.”
All stock markets in the Gulf fell on Monday.
Conversely, oil prices were rising. Around 1400 GMT, Brent crude oil for July delivery was worth $ 72.15 in London, up $ 1.53 from Friday’s close.
– “Criminal act” –
The Saudi energy minister said the actions against the Saudi tankers caused neither a casualty nor a spill, but caused “significant damage to the structures of the two ships”.
One of the two ships was en route to be loaded with oil at the Ras Tanura Saudi terminal for delivery to US customers, he said.
Subsequently, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs “condemned” a “criminal act” which constitutes a “serious threat” to shipping and has “a negative impact on peace and security”.
Like Abu Dhabi, Riyadh has not appointed any responsible. Neither have the two countries specified the nature of the “acts of sabotage”.
On Sunday, the UAE government called on the international community to “take responsibility to prevent such actions from being committed by parties seeking to undermine the safety of navigation”.
The port of Fujairah is the only terminal in the United Arab Emirates on the coast of the Arabian Sea that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close this strategic strait, crucial for global shipping and oil trade, in the event of a confrontation with the United States.
The announcement of these incidents by two close allies of Washington comes amid a renewed tension between the United States and Iran after strengthening US sanctions against Tehran, which has suspended some of its nuclear commitments.