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Mystery shrouds ‘sabotage’ of oil tankers in tense Gulf

Published : Wednesday, 15 May, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 366

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (R) poses for photos with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif prior to a meeting in New Delhi on May 14.	photo : AFP

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (R) poses for photos with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif prior to a meeting in New Delhi on May 14. photo : AFP

DUBAI, May 14: Investigators sought on Tuesday to shed light on a series of mysterious attacks on ships off the coast of the UAE, as President Donald Trump warned Iran against doing anything to harm US interests.
Washington and its Gulf allies stopped short of blaming Tehran for what the UAE and Saudi Arabia called the "sabotage" of four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, on Sunday.
But Trump vowed that Tehran would "suffer greatly" were it to "do anything" to threaten US interests.
"If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake," Trump warned at the White House. "If they do anything they will suffer greatly."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back, saying the Islamic republic was "too great to be intimidated by anyone".
"God willing we will pass this difficult period with glory and our heads held high, and defeat the enemy," Rouhani said at a late night meeting with clerics.
The attacks came after the United States deployed B-52 bombers and an assault ship to bolster an aircraft carrier in the region.
The dispatch of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, the amphibious assault vessel, a Patriot missile battery and the bombers has triggered fears of a possible military confrontation.
"In an environment of rising regional tensions, limited Iranian operations against the UAE and Saudi Arabia might be designed to dissuade Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and signal that war with Iran will not be limited to Iranian soil," said Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.
Deliberate sabotage
A UAE government official said the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati ship, the A. Michel.
No casualties were reported and none of the vessels sank.
Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional arch-rival, condemned "acts of sabotage" and a "criminal act".
The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the "deliberate sabotage".
"The investigation will be conducted in a professional manner, the facts will be made clear, and we have our own readings and conclusions," he tweeted.
Saudi Arabia said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no oil spill.
The attacks raised many questions, including the nature of the sabotage.
The Andrea Victory's managers, Thome Group, said the ship had a hole in its hull "after being struck by an unknown object on the waterline".    -AFP

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