Wednesday 24/07/2019 - 03:22 am


Gulf of Oman tanker attacks: Saudi Arabia urges "decisive" response


2019.06.15 05:42

 Saudi Arabia has urged a "rapid and decisive" response to recent attacks on oil tankers in the area.

 
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih warned of a threat to energy supplies and market stability.
 
On Thursday two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, a month after four others were targeted off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
 
The US has blamed Iran, which denies any involvement. The attacks come amid increasing tensions between the two.
 
Oil prices jumped as much as 4% after Thursdays incident.
 
The US has produced a video it suggests shows Iranian forces in a small boat taking an unexploded mine off the hull of one of the ships following Thursdays attacks. But it has not provided evidence for Irans alleged involvement in the previous attacks within UAE territorial waters.
 
Relations between the US and Iran have deteriorated significantly since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017. He abandoned a nuclear deal and significantly tightened sanctions on Iran.
The footage released by the US on Thursday is rather more convincing than the circumstantial evidence it had provided earlier.
 
The small white patrol craft in the video is typical of the type used by Irans IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) Navy in the Gulf. In recent years, the IRGC Navy has steadily supplanted Irans conventional navy all along Irans Gulf coast, from its border with Iraq in the north all the way down to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. Its forces have built up a formidable flotilla of small, high-speed, hard-to-detect attack craft armed with mines, missiles, torpedoes and drones.
 
IRGC commandos regularly practise covert operations and simulated attacks. Some of their craft have come in close proximity to US Navy warships in the Gulf in recent years and there remains the risk of a clash at sea.
 
Iran has denied any involvement in Thursdays attacks, saying they were carried out by someone looking to derail Irans relations with the international community. There will likely be doubts in Tehran as to whether this video is genuine.
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