RIYADH / DUBAI (Reuters) – The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia said that Washington should take what it called "reasonable responses short of war" after determining who was behind the attacks on tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
A technical staff is seen at the port of Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates, on May 13, 2019. REUTERS / Satish Kumar
Iran was the first suspect in sabotage on Sunday, although Washington did not have conclusive evidence, an American official familiar with American intelligence said today. Iran has denied involvement.
"We need to do a thorough investigation to understand what happened, why it happened, and then provide reasonable answers short of war," Ambassador John Abizaid told reporters in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
"It is not in the interest (of Iran), it is not in our interest, it is not in the interest of Saudi Arabia a conflict".
Four merchant ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged on Sunday near Fujairah, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates and a bunker hub just outside the Strait of Hormuz. The authorities of the United Arab Emirates did not say who was behind the attack.
By detaching Tehran from the accident, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called it "worrying and terrible".
Iran is involved in a war of words with the United States for sanctions and the US military presence in the region.
Washington has increased sanctions on Tehran, saying it wants to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero, after abandoning the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and the world powers last year.
The US Maritime Administration said last week that Iran could target US commercial ships, including tankers sailing through Middle Eastern waterways. Tehran called the US military presence "a target" rather than a threat.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared information on what he called growing threats from Iran during meetings with EU counterparts and the NATO head in Brussels on Monday, the special representative for L & # said 39; Iran of the United States, Brian Hook.
Hook refused to say whether he believed Iran had played a role in the attacks against Fujairah or whether Pompey had blamed Iran. He said the United Arab Emirates sought US help in the investigation.
COLD HEADS MUST PREVALUE
The newspapers in the United Arab Emirates, which are heavily controlled by the government, publish editorials recommending caution in responding to the attack, which threatens to undermine the image of the Arab Gulf state as a regional bastion of stability and security .
"While further details have yet to emerge on this worrying incident, cold leaders must prevail and adequate measures must be taken to ensure that this situation does not escape control," wrote the editorial board of the Abu Dhabi National.
Gulf News, a Dubai-based newspaper linked to the state, said "rogue actors must be brought to book".
Saudi Arabia's energy minister said today that the attack aims to undermine the security of global oil supplies.
One fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle Eastern oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond. The narrow waterway separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.
Oil prices rose slightly on Tuesday, although they were recorded during an escalation in the US-China trade war.
Arab Gulf equity markets rebounded in early trading. The Saudi index rose 1.4% after two days of heavy losses and the Dubai stock index was trading 2.4% higher after the biggest one-day loss in the last days of Monday.
US President Donald Trump wants to force Tehran to agree on a broader arms control agreement and has sent an B-52 aircraft carrier and bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what US officials have said are threats to US troops in the region.
Iranian revolutionary guards, designated a Washington terrorist organization, threatened to close Hormuz's chokepoint last month if Tehran was forbidden to use it.
Written by Stephen Kalin, editing by Angus MacSwan
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