Following the news from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo modified his agenda and travelled to Brussels to discuss Iran with European leaders. Regional exchanges fall, while military reinforcements accumulate in the area.
Tensions rose in the Gulf on Monday after several ships were subjected to “acts of sabotage” , according to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while the head of US diplomacy Mike Pompeo changed his agenda to discuss Iran with the European managers.
“We are very concerned about the risk of an accidental conflict arising from an involuntary escalation on both sides,” said British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, before meeting his European counterparts and Pompeo in Brussels.
The authorities of Saudi Arabia, allied of the United States, indicated “acts of sabotage” against Saudi ships against the coasts of UAE, another country near the United States that reinforced its military presence in the Gulf in the context of the tension with Iran.
“Two Saudi oil tankers were targeted for acts of sabotage in the exclusive economic zone of the UAE, off the coast of the Emirate of Fujaira when they were about to enter the Gulf of Arabia, ” Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih was quoted as saying. the official SPAagency .
On Sunday, the UAE also spoke of ” acts of sabotage” against four commercial vessels of different nationalities in the east of the emirate of Fuyaira, without identifying the authors but describing the event as “serious”.
In Iran, the authorities deemed the “acts of sabotage” against ships off the coast of the Emirates “worrisome” and called for an investigation.
“These incidents in the Oman Sea are disturbing and regrettable,” said Abbas Musavi, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, which called for an investigation and warned against the “adventurism” of “foreign actors” in the area to disrupt navigation. maritime
All Gulf exchanges fell on a half-day Monday, including Riyadh (-2.7%), Dubai (-3.7%) and Abu Dhabi (-3%).
The news channel Sky News broadcast images of one of the Saudi ships under the name “Al Marzoqah”.
The Saudi Energy Minister said for his part that the actions against the Saudi oil tankers did not cause victims or oil slick but “significant damage to the structures of two ships.”
One of the two tankers was on its way to receiving its cargo of oil at the Saudi terminal in Ras Tanura for delivery to US customers , the minister said.
Later, the Saudi Foreign Ministry “condemned” this “criminal act” which represents a “serious threat” to maritime navigation and “an ominous incidence for regional and international peace and security.”
Like the UAE, Saudi Arabia did not appoint any responsible party. Both countries also did not detail what type of “acts of sabotage” is involved.
For now, these acts of sabotage are a mystery.
However, on Sunday, the UAE government asked the international community to “take responsibility to prevent such actions from being committed by parties that seek to undermine the safety of navigation . “
The port of Fujaira is the only terminal in the UAE located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, which avoids passing through the Strait of Hormuz, where most of the Gulf’s oil exports circulate.
On several occasions Iran threatened to close this strategic strait, crucial for world navigation and oil supplies, in the event of a military confrontation with the United States.
The announcement of these incidents by two close allies of Washington comes against the background of new tensions between the United States and Iran following the reinforcement of US sanctions against Tehran , which suspended some of the commitments on its nuclear program.
On Friday , the United States announced the shipment to the area of a warship transporting vehicles, especially amphibians , and a battery of Patriot missiles, which are added to the deployment of an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers.
On Sunday, the State Department indicated that the head of US diplomacy, Mike Pompeo, had decided to meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss “urgent issues”, and in particular from Iran, with European officials.
As a result, he cancelled a planned visit to Moscow, said a US official.
Pompeo had already cancelled his planned visits to Berlin and Greenland in the last days to address the Iranian question.
The State Department did not specify which meetings are scheduled on Mike Pompeo’s agenda, even though the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) hold their monthly meeting on Monday in Brussels.