What we know about the 'sabotage' attacks off UAE's coast

Cheryl Sanders
May 15, 2019

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.

The vital pipeline has a capacity of at least five million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister said on Monday that the attack aimed to undermine security of global crude supplies.

The stations are serving a major East-West oil pipeline that transports crude from the oilfields in the Eastern Province to the port of Yanbu on the west coast.

US national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have attacked four tankers off the United Arab Emirates rather than Iranian forces themselves, a USA official familiar with the latest us assessments said on Tuesday.

"A USA official in Washington, without offering any evidence, said that an American military team's initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships, including two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati oil tanker", the news agency reported.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih called the attack, which came on the heels of reported damage to Saudi and UAE-flagged tankers in the Gulf, "an act of terrorism and sabotage" against the global oil flow.

"It reaffirms the importance of addressing all the terrorist groups carrying out such acts of sabotage, including the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen".

A team of US military investigators reportedly believes Iran or its proxies orchestrated the bomb attacks on four commercial vessels anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, two of them Saudi oil tankers. "It's not in [Iran's] interest, it's not in our interest, it's not in Saudi Arabia's interest to have a conflict". A Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen for four years.

The incident comes after the United States announced it was sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf due to alleged threats from Iran. But it demonstrated the raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies as tensions are increasing between the USA and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Following the attack, the Associated Press reported that the Houthis had claimed responsibility for the attack, which was meant to send a message to the kingdom to stop what the militants described as "aggression".

Riyadh said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no oil spill.

Trump says "bad problem" may await Iran as the USA bulks up its military presence in the Persian Gulf; State Department correspondent Rich Edson reports.

And Iran has made frequent threats to block the Strait of Hormuz; in 2011, Tehran said "not a drop" of oil would pass through if sanctions against it were widened.

Fujairah also is about 140 kilometres south of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil at sea is traded.

On Sunday it was revealed that President Trump had increased economic pressure on Iran and was looking to cut off all its oil exports in a bid to get Tehran to curb its nuclear and missile programs.

"Of course we can see the parallels with the run up to the Iraq war, but ... this is a president who lives up to his campaign promises", she said.

Other reports by iNewsToday