UAE tanker attacks blamed on ‘state actor’

The United Arab Emirates has told the UN Security Council a “state actor” was most likely behind attacks on four tankers off its coast.

The 12 May attacks bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and co-ordinated operation”, according to its report.

The UAE did not say who it thought was behind the attacks, which also targeted vessels from Saudi Arabia and Norway.

The US has accused Iran of being behind the attacks but Tehran denies this and has called for an investigation.

The attacks took place within UAE territorial waters east of the emirate of Fujairah, just outside the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, in what the UAE called a “sabotage attack”.

They exacerbated long-standing tensions between Iran, and the US and its allies in the Gulf.

What does the report say happened?

According to the UAE-led investigation, which was presented to a closed session of the UN Security Council in New York, the attacks showed a “high degree of sophistication”.

“The attacks required the expert navigation of fast boats” which “were able to intrude into UAE territorial waters”, the report’s preliminary findings say.

Divers were used to attack the ships using limpet mines in order to cause damage but not cause a major explosion, the presentation says.

There were no casualties but Saudi Arabia has said two of its ships suffered “significant” damage. Another tanker was Norwegian-registered, while the fourth was UAE-flagged.

Why is Iran being accused?

The attacks happened at a time of escalating tension between the US and Iran, long-time foes.

They took place days after the US sent warships and bombers to the region in response to what it said was an unspecified plan by Iran to attack US forces in the area.

While it is unclear why Iran would carry out a relatively low-level attack on the multinational tankers, observers have speculated that it could have been to send a signal to forces ranged against it that it is capable of disrupting shipping there without triggering a war.

Responding to the UAE report, the Saudi Ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Y al-Mouallimi, said the kingdom believed “that the responsibility for this action lies on the shoulders of Iran. We have no hesitation in making this statement,” Reuters news agency reported.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton previously said “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” were to blame for the damage, although he provided no evidence to support the allegation.

However, Mr Bolton, long known for his hawkish stance on Iran, denied the Trump administration was seeking to overthrow the Iranian government.

“The policy we’re pursuing is not a policy of regime change,” he told reporters last week during a visit to London. “That’s the fact and everybody should understand it that way.”

Iran’s foreign ministry has rejected the US accusations as “ludicrous” and accused Mr Bolton of being a “warmonger”.

What are the underlying tensions?

At the start of May, Washington ended exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran.

The decision was intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the government its main source of revenue.

US President Donald Trump reinstated the sanctions a year ago after abandoning the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that Iran agreed with six nations – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Iran has now announced it will suspend several commitments under the deal.


GCC navies begin security patrols in Arabian Gulf amid US-Iran tensions

Saudi Arabian foreign ministry reiterates that it does not want war with Iran, but is prepared for one if need be, as GCC navies step up Arabian Gulf patrols.

GCC countries have begun “enhanced security patrols” in the international waters of the Arabian Gulf, according to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

GCC members were “specifically increasing communication and co-ordination with each other in support of regional naval co-operation and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf”, the Bahrain-based fleet said in a statement.

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Tanker attacks near UAE expose weaknesses in Gulf Arab security

Persian Gulf/SoH

By Stephen Kalin, Alexander Cornwell and Dahlia Nehme

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – Attacks on Saudi tankers and other vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates this week expose vulnerabilities in the security of a key oil-shipping route amid rising tensions between the United States, Iran and Gulf Arab states.

The operation near the Strait of Hormuz appeared designed to test the resolve of the United States and its Sunni Muslim allies without triggering a war, after Washington tightened sanctions on Iran and beefed up its military presence nearby.

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Crew Of Pirates Captured By Spanish Soldiers

The crew of the frigate ‘Navarra’ has carried out the device in the framework of the Atalanta mission; the operation is still open.

Spanish soldiers of the Navarra frigate have intercepted a pirate vessel and captured the crew, which in the previous days had attacked two ships -one of them, Spanish-. The episode took place on the morning of this Tuesday in the waters of the Indian Ocean , in the framework of the Atalanta operation of the European Union to fight against piracy. The device has culminated with the release of a Yemeni fisherman who had been kidnapped for four days.

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Iran, Oman to stage joint military drill: envoy

Speaking at a meeting with 120 representatives from Iranian trade and economic sectors held in Muscat, ambassador Nouri Shahroudi said the two countries will be staging a joint military drill in the coming days.

“Currently, our joint military committee is present in Oman, and we will hold a joint maneuver in the coming days,” he said.

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