The shots are intended to show Iranian Revolutionary Guards lifting a misfired mine from the hull of one of the two ships that have fallen on fire. “They did not want to leave traces behind,” says Trump. Experts in Washington consider Iranian participation plausible, even if Tehran rejects the allegations. But there are also doubts about the version.
The Japanese operator of one of the sabotaged cargo ships said the tanker had been hit by a projectile, not a mine. But the US is holding fast to the allegations – and fueled the debate with new allegations: The Iranian military had tried to shoot down a drone of the stationed in Bahrain 5th US fleet. The missile had allegedly filmed the attack on the Japanese tanker Kokuka Courageous, which is managed by the Hamburg shipping company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.
The incident will have consequences: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke of a “blatant attack” and threatened that the US would “join forces and defend interests to protect global trade and regional stability.”
At the weekend, the Americans leaped aside the ally Saudi Arabia. “We do not want a war in the region. But we will not hesitate to confront a threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests, “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman threatened Iran in an interview with the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.
International developments are followed with concern, especially in economic terms. The Strait of Hormuz, near which the two tankers were attacked, is the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf into the open ocean. It brings oil from the Middle East to international markets, and about 20 percent of global exports are shipped through the straits.
Meanwhile, the price of oil rose more than four percent, but lost some of its gains during the weekend. In the Gulf region, around one third of the world's oil is produced. “The danger of a military conflict has increased noticeably. This speaks for a risk premium on the price of oil, “said Carsten Fritsch, oil expert at Commerzbank.
“In a global economy shaken by crises and new barriers to trade, the conflict on the Persian Gulf is adding to the burden on the German economy,” said Volker Treier, foreign trade chief of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Handelsblatt.
The price of oil could rise immensely
“The foreign trade economy is darkening noticeably. Cost burdens due to further rising oil prices are foreseeable. Investment projects of German companies in the Middle East are now subject to a special reservation. “Middle East expert Michael Lüders, President of the German-Arab Society, also warns of the economic consequences of the escalation:” There are estimates that, in the event of war, the price per barrel of oil could rise to as much as $ 300. At the moment, it's $ 63, “said Lüders to Deutschlandfunk.
From the point of view of Warren Patterson, commodity strategist of ING Bank, the incident has brought the geopolitical risks back into the focus of investors. “The first price reaction shows that the market has not priced in the risk of escalation despite sabotage last month.”
In Europe, de-escalation has recently been pushed for, trying to influence the few diplomatic wires that have remained since the break-up of the JCPOA nuclear deal. But currently, Europe seems helpless to watch how the conflict escalates. “Europe can do nothing against the geo-economic power of the US,” says Josef Braml, US expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations.
Brussels was accordingly reluctant at the weekend, none of the senior EU politicians took position. A spokeswoman for the commission warned against rash actions and said that they still gather information. From circles of EU officials was also to learn that Brussels will not join the accusation of Americans for the time being. Only the British government said it was “almost certain” that Iranian responsibility could be assumed.
“We need de-escalation,” warned Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), but admitted: “Sabotage against or attacks on merchant ships pose a threat to open trade routes and the central right of freedom at sea. In the current situation, they are also a threat for peace. “EU Foreign Ministers will meet on Monday to discuss further action.
In the meantime it became known that since the beginning of the year the federal government has approved arms deliveries for more than one billion euros to the allied Yemeni alliance led by Saudi Arabia. Despite the export restrictions in the coalition agreement between the Union and the SPD, between January 1 and June 5 alone 13 exports were approved for 801.8 million euros to Egypt and 43 exports to the United Arab Emirates for 206.1 million euros.
According to the German Press Agency, this is the result of a response from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to a request by Greens MP Omid Nouripour. The Iranian leadership had vehemently rejected the accusations against them from the beginning. They were part of a plan to “sabotage diplomacy,” tweeted Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawaf Sarif.
For the tanker attacks were on the day on which Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a peaceful conflict settlement in Tehran. Iran's President Hassan Ruhani reiterated Saturday's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, China's head of state Xi Jinping, and the presidents of Central Asia that his country is getting out of the nuclear deal.
“Only a matter of time”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in a state of crisis during the crisis. If he does not miss an opportunity to warn of the Iranian threat, he avoids any comments so far. Netanyahu wants to prevent Trump from unilaterally supporting his conflict with Tehran, says Yaacov Amidror, Netanyahu's former security adviser, in radio interviews.
But if one threat follows the other, is an argument with weapons inevitable? Until it comes to a military confrontation, it is “only a matter of time,” says US expert Braml. “Either it's this incident or the next one. Eventually it will pop. I expect a military preemptive strike by the US and its allies. “
Trump's security adviser, John Bolton, did not rule out a military strike, and the Defense Department has been under provisional leadership since James Mattis' departure, making collusion arrangements difficult. As the world looks worried about the next steps of both players, Trump remains vague: “We'll see what happens.”
Collaboration: Jakob Blume, Eva Fischer, Pierre Heumann, Torsten Riecke
More: Mohammed bin Salman fights against Tehran for a verbal blow. The US military is reproaching Iran after the attacks on two tankers.
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