Crisis in the Arabian Gulf | Page 3 | World Defense

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Saudi Arabia says its oil tankers among those hit off UAE coast
Rania El Gamal, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
May 13, 2019 / 7:52 AM / Updated 18 minutes ago

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not describe the nature of the attack or say who was behind it.

The UAE had not given the nationalities or other details about the ownership of the four vessels. Riyadh has identified two of them as Saudi and a Norwegian company said it owned another. Reuters images showed the fourth vessel was the UAE-flagged A. Michel, a fuel bunker barge.

Thome Ship Management said its Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT Andrew Victory was “struck by an unknown object”. Footage seen by Reuters showed a hole in the hull at the waterline with the metal torn open inwards.


 

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Saudi Arabia says its oil tankers among those hit off UAE coast
May 13, 2019
Updated 21 minutes ago
Rania El Gamal, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin


DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not describe the nature of the attack or say who was behind it.

The UAE had not given the nationalities or other details about the ownership of the four vessels. Riyadh has identified two of them as Saudi and a Norwegian company said it owned another. Reuters images showed the fourth vessel was the UAE-flagged A. Michel, a fuel bunker barg

Thome Ship Management said its Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT Andrew Victory was “struck by an unknown object”. Footage seen by Reuters showed a hole in the hull at the waterline with the metal torn open inwards.

A Reuters witness said divers were inspecting the damaged ships on Monday.

Iran, which is embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over sanctions and the U.S. military’s presence in the region, moved to distance itself on Monday.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and asked for an investigation into the matter.
A senior Iranian lawmaker said “saboteurs from a third country” could be behind it, after saying on Sunday the incident showed the security of Gulf states was fragile.

Highlighting international concerns, Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warned of the risks of “a conflict happening by accident” with an unintended escalation between Washington and Tehran over an unraveling nuclear deal.

Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 pact between Iran and global powers aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear plans. Since then, the United States has ratcheted up sanctions on Iran, saying it wanted to reduce its oil exports to zero.

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A damaged ANDREA VICTORY ship is seen off the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Satish Kumar

UAE LAUNCHES PROBE
A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle East crude producers to major markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond. The narrow waterway separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, threatened last month to close the chokepoint if Tehran was barred from using it.

Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent crude futures at $72.08 a barrel by 1416 GMT, up $2.07.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that one of the two Saudi vessels was attacked in the UAE economic zone on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude from Ras Tanura port for delivery to state-owned Aramco’s customers in the United States.

The attack did not cause any casualties or an oil spill but caused significant damage to the vessels’ structures, he said in a statement.

Trading and shipping sources identified the Saudi vessels as very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah, both owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri, which did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The UAE Foreign Ministry had said there were no casualties and the Fujairah port operations were normal. An investigation was launched in coordination with international authorities, it said, calling on global powers to prevent any parties trying to harm maritime safety and security.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock markets suffered their biggest single-day declines in years on Monday, with Dubai falling 3.97%. Saudi shares lost 3.55%.

OIL SECURITY
Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE have backed U.S. sanctions against Shi’ite Iran, a fellow OPEC producer but regional foe. After the United States ended all sanctions waivers that had allowed some nations to continue importing Iranian crude, Washington said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would help compensate for any shortage in oil supply.

Falih said the attack aimed to undermine maritime freedom and the security of oil supplies to consumers worldwide.
“The international community has a joint responsibility to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets and the danger they pose to the global economy,” he said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the incident “has a negative impact on maritime transportation security” and asked regional countries to be “vigilant against destabilising plots of foreign agents”, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

The U.S. Maritime Administration said in an advisory on Sunday that incidents off Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, had not been confirmed and urged caution.

The Maritime Administration had said earlier this month that U.S. commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through Middle East waterways could be targeted by Iran in one of the threats to U.S. interests posed by Tehran.

Washington said it was sending a U.S. aircraft carrier and other forces to the Middle East due to what it said were Iranian threats, while Tehran has called the U.S. military presence “a target” rather than a threat. Iran has said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul and Robin Emmott in London, Saeed Azhar in Dubai and Oslo newsroom; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Edmund Blair and Mark Potter

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A damaged ANDREA VICTORY


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UAE-flagged A. Michel, a fuel bunker barge.


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Crude tanker Al Marzoqah surrounded by UAE coast guard vessels.

 

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Iranian lawmaker says 'saboteurs from a third country' may be behind Fujairah explosions: IRNA
May 13, 2019


LONDON (Reuters) - A senior Iranian lawmaker said on Monday that “saboteurs from a third country” could be behind explosions near Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates.

“The explosions of Fujairah port could have been carried out by saboteurs from a third country who seek instability in the region,” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s national security committee, was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that two Saudi oil tankers were targeted on Sunday in “a sabotage attack” off the coast of Fujairah, part of the United Arab Emirates, threatening the security of global oil supplies.

 

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Factbox: Strait of Hormuz - the world's most important oil artery
May 13, 2019

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not say who was behind the operation, which took place amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.

Iran’s foreign ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and asked for an investigation.

The Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond, has been at the heart of regional tensions for decades.

Below is some background about the Strait:

Reuters Graphic
WHAT IS THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ?

The waterway separates Iran and Oman, linking the Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea.

The Strait is 21 miles (33 km) wide at its narrowest point, but the shipping lane is just two miles (three km) wide in either direction.


WHY DOES IT MATTER?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that 18.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of seaborne oil passed through the waterway in 2016. That was about 30 percent of crude and other oil liquids traded by sea in 2016.

About 17.2 million bpd of crude and condensates were estimated to have been shipped through the Strait in 2017 and about 17.4 million bpd in the first half of 2018, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa.

With global oil consumption standing at about 100 million bpd, that means almost a fifth passes through the Strait.

Most crude exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq — all members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — is shipped through the waterway.

It is also the route used for nearly all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced by the world’s biggest LNG exporter, Qatar.

During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the two sides sought to disrupt each other’s oil exports in what was known as the Tanker War.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting the commercial ships in the area.

“While the presence of the U.S. Fifth Fleet should ensure that the critical waterway remains open, provocative Iranian military maneuvers are likely in the immediate offing as is a nuclear restart”, analysts at bank RBC wrote on April 22.


Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions under a 2015 deal with the United States and five other global powers. Washington pulled out of the pact in 2018. Western powers fear Iran wants to make nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this.

“All of these geopolitical stories could present a cruel summer scenario for President (Donald) Trump as he seeks to keep oil prices in check,” the RBC analysts wrote.

ARE THERE ALTERNATIVE ROUTES FOR GULF OIL?

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find other routes to bypass the Strait, including building more oil pipelines.

Reuters Graphic
HAVE THERE BEEN INCIDENTS IN THE STRAIT BEFORE?

In July 1988, the U.S. warship Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, killing all 290 aboard, in what Washington said was an accident after crew mistook the plane for a fighter. Tehran said it was a deliberate attack. The United States said the Vincennes was in the area to protect neutral vessels against Iranian navy attacks.

In early 2008, the United States said Iranian boats threatened its warships after they approached three U.S. naval ships in the Strait.

In June 2008, the then Revolutionary Guards commander-in-chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the Strait if it was attacked.

In July 2010, Japanese oil tanker M Star was attacked in the Strait. A militant group called Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility.


In January 2012, Iran threatened to block the Strait in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions that targeted its oil revenues in an attempt to stop Tehran’s nuclear program.

In May 2015, Iranian ships fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which it said damaged an Iranian oil platform, causing the vessel to flee. It also seized a container ship in the Strait.

In July 2018, President Hassan Rouhani hinted Iran could disrupt oil flows through the Strait in response to U.S. calls to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. A Revolutionary Guards commander also said Iran would block all exports through the Strait if Iranian exports were stopped.

Sources: Reuters/Refinitiv/Energy Information Administration

Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Edmund Blair and Dale Hudson

 

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Arab World Condemns Sabotage of Vessels off UAE Coast
13 May, 2019 -Asharq Al-Awsat
[IMG]

The Arab world slams the sabotage attack off the coast of the UAE. (Reuters)



The Gulf Cooperation Council condemned “sabotage operations” of four commercial vessels near UAE territorial waters on Sunday.

That “would increase tensions and conflict in the region and jeopardize the interests of their peoples,” Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary general, said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia denounced the attack that aims to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit condemned the attacks as "criminal acts."

He said in a statement on Monday that these acts are a "serious violation of the freedom and integrity of trade and maritime transport routes."

He stressed that the Arab League stands by the UAE and Saudi Arabia "in all measures taken to safeguard their security and interests."

Egypt’s foreign ministry on Sunday condemned the attacks and said it stood by the UAE.

In a statement, the ministry said it “condemned all acts that would harm the national security of the UAE” and “stressed the solidarity of the Egyptian government and people with the UAE in confronting all the challenges it may face.”

Bahrain strongly condemned the development, which it said was aimed at threatening the security and stability of marine navigation.

The Foreign Ministry underlined its solidarity with the UAE in all the measures it takes to preserve its security and safeguard its interests.

It also urged the international community to assume its responsibility, guarantee the safety of marine navigation and confront all attempts to undermine international peace and security.

Kuwait slammed the attack as a “criminal act that blatantly violates international law and escalates tensions in the region.”

An official source at the Foreign Ministry called for immediate action by the international community to put a stop to such threats to marine navigation, world trade routes and global energy supplies.

Kuwait stands by the UAE and completely supports all measures it takes to security its stability and safety of its territories, it added.

Jordan condemned “in the strongest terms” the sabotage attack.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterated the Kingdom’s constant rejection of any criminal act that threatens the security and safety of marine navigation in the Arabian Gulf.

Amman stands by the UAE in confronting any attempt to undermine its security and stability, he added.

Four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the UAE without causing casualties, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The incident occurred near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, it said.

The ministry said it had launched an investigation in coordination with international authorities.


Arab World Condemns Sabotage of Vessels off UAE Coast
 

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Iran reacts to 'sabotage act' on 4 ships off UAE waters
Agencies
May 13, 2019

OIC has also strongly condemned the sabotage of commercial vessels near UAE's territorial waters.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi expressed Tehran's concern about the Sunday (May 12) sabotage operations against 4 oil ships off UAE waters on the security of shipping and maritime transport, warning against plots against regional security and stability.

In a statement on Monday (May 13), Mousavi expressed concern about explosion at the Oman Sea affecting the oil tankers, calling for clarifying dimensions of the sabotage on some oil tankers.

The Iranian diplomat expressed concern about sabotaging the oil tankers, saying, regretful incident happened for some ships on Sunday.

The General Secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, has strongly condemned the sabotage of commercial vessels near the territorial waters of the UAE in the Gulf of Oman.

In a statement on May 13, the OIC said that this sabotage action threatens the security and safety of international maritime traffic, calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to ensure maritime traffic and safety, and to ensure the stability of the security of the region.


 

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Mike Pompeo in Brussels for Iran talks as tensions escalate
Taylor Heyman and Jamie Prentis
May 13, 2019

The US deployed a Patriot missile defence system to the Arabian Gulf at the weekend



US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held urgent talks with his European counterparts in Brussels on Monday to shore up allied backing for Washington as international tensions escalate over Iran.

Mr Pompeo entered bilateral meetings with foreign ministers from France, Germany and the UK who were assembled in Brussels to discuss Iran’s recent threat to breach commitments of the 2015 nuclear deal. America's chief diplomat diverted to the European capital after rescheduling the first day of a planned trip to Russia.

The three ministers and the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini were holding a discussion on the response to Iran’s announcement on Wednesday of a 60-day deadline for its plan abandon commitments to the agreement.

.@FedericaMog will meet with the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and UK for EU+3 meeting in the margins of today's #FAC to discuss how to best continue support full #JCPoA implementation pic.twitter.com/3Ile0RShRK
— European External Action Service - EEAS 🇪🇺 (@eu_eeas) May 13, 2019
Mr Pompeo’s trip to Brussels came after the UAE said it was investigating an apparent "sabotage attack" on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the coast of Fujairah. Also at the weekend the US announced the return of a Patriot missile defence system to the Arabian Gulf, citing an unspecified threat to US forces in the region. Last week it deployed strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats.

"We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side but ends with some kind of conflict," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

"I think what we need is a period of calm, to make sure everyone understands what the other side is thinking and most of all we must make sure we don't end up putting Iran back on the path to renuclearisation, because if Iran becomes a nuclear power its neighbours are likely to want to become nuclear powers.

"This is already the most unstable region in the world and it would be a massive step in the wrong direction.

Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, said he had warned of the risks of confrontation in his meeting with Mr Pompeo. "We are concerned about the development and the tensions in the region, that we do not want there to be a military escalation," he said.

Ms Mogherini indicated the EU remained supportive of the 2015 nuclear deal. “We will continue to support it as much as we can with all our instruments and all our political will,” she said.

Analysts said the incident had also concentrated minds on the risks in the region.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged in an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks. Any attacks by them or their proxies against U.S. citizens or our interests will be answered with a swift and decisive response.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 10, 2019
Mr Pompeo's Brussels visit was seen as an attempt to push the EU to align with US interests but there remains resistance to the US demands on the deal and the re-imposition of sanctions.

"The Trump administration is eager to show that Europe too is growing weary of the Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo’s visit is intended to signal to the Iranians that Europe is growing more sympathetic to US concerns over Iran," Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of Bourse & Bazaar, a commentary site, told The National.

"But what Pompeo fails to appreciate is that however weary Europe might be of defending the JCPOA, they are even more exasperated about dealing with a Trump administration that keeps lurching from one diplomatic crisis to another.

"The direction of Trump’s Iran policy itself has also sown doubt in Europe as to Pompeo’s authority on foreign policy - in recent weeks he has been repeatedly outmanoeuvred by national security adviser John Bolton," he added.

🇪🇺 🇺🇸 @FedericaMog receives US Secretary of State @SecPompeo in Brussels pic.twitter.com/9PrDGkhW9n
— Sabrina Bellosi (@sabellosi) May 13, 2019
The European signatories said they regretted the decision by the US to reimpose sanctions on Iran while Mr Trump said that the sanctions “dramatically strengthened our national security” before deriding the nuclear deal as “horrible” and “one-sided”.

Mr Trump has also offered Iran direct talks, saying its leaders should “call me” and suggesting that America would help to revive the country’s economy if it did not stockpile nuclear weapons.

While Mr Pompeo cancelled the Moscow leg of his Russia, he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as planned on Tuesday, a State Department official said.

Against this backdrop, any suggested implication of Iran in the incident involving the tankers off Fujairah would heap pressure on Europe to support US efforts in the region. Crude oil prices rose as much as 2 per cent.

“There are plenty of reasons to believe Iran is responsible. After all, its leaders have said that if Iran cannot export oil, neither will its competitors in the Gulf. And just last week intelligence surfaced that Iran had empowered proxies to conduct attacks. But it cannot be ruled out that attacks were not directly ordered by Tehran,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, associate fellow, International Institute of Strategic Studies.

Other analysts said judgement would be withheld until the ongoing investigation was conclusive.

“The attack is a dramatic escalation of the long standing tensions between Iran and the Gulf states, most notably Saudi Arabia. Investigations are on going and unless a third party is identified as the culprit, Iran will be seen as the ones behind the attack. If that proves to be the case, the fallout could range from greater political isolation for Iran, through to a head to head conflict," said Ghanem Nuseibeh, the founder of Cornerstone Global Associates. "Europe will find it hard to argue for a softening of the stance with Iran in as far as the current sanctions are concerned. The international community may put strong demands from Iran as a result of this."

In the 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear ambitions and refrain from developing ballistic missiles in return for a lifting of sanctions. The US withdrew from the accord last year, prompting European efforts to hold the bargain together.

Mr Pompeo has previously been critical of the EU-backed launch of INSTEX, a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ to enable EU nations and Iran to trade essential goods like food and medicine.

The EU ministers said they remain committed to trade with Tehran if it upheld its commitments in the nuclear deal but there are limits to how much they can offer Iran.

Johannes Hahn, a European commissioner, indicated businesses were voting with their feet. "We have created the conditions for European companies to do business with Iran, but nevertheless many companies are concerned that if they do business with Iran, there will be consequences for their activities in the United States, that’s why they are holding back," he said. “I cannot force a private company to do business in Iran."

 

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Pompeo shares details on 'escalating' Iran threats in Brussels: U.S. State Department
May 13, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared information on “escalating” threats from Iran with European allies and NATO officials during meetings in Brussels on Monday, the U.S. special representative for Iran said.

“Iran is an escalating threat and this seemed like a timely visit on his way to Sochi,” Brian Hook told reporters, referring to Pompeo’s planned visit to Russia on Tuesday for meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Pompeo canceled a visit to Moscow on Monday and stopped in Brussels instead, en route to Sochi.
“The secretary wanted to share some details behind what we have been saying publicly,” Hook said. “We believe that Iran should try talks instead of threats. They have chosen poorly by focusing on threats.”

Hook said Pompeo, while in Brussels, also discussed reported attacks on several oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Asked if Pompeo was blaming Iran for the attacks, Hook said: “We discussed ... what seemed to be attacks on commercial vessels that were anchored off Fujairah ... we have been requested by the UAE to provide assistance in the investigation, which we are very glad to do.”
Asked if he himself believed there was the possibility of an Iranian role, Hook had no comment.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not describe the nature of the attack or say who was behind it.

Saudi Arabia said Monday that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The UAE on Monday identified the vessels as very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah, both owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri. The other two were UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge A. Michel and Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT Andrew Victory.
Reporting by Makini Brice and David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Alexander and Jeffrey Benkoe


 

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U.S. suspects Iran in tanker attack but cannot prove it now: official
May 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran is a leading candidate for having carried out attacks on four tankers near the United Arab Emirates but the United States does not have conclusive proof Tehran was behind them, a U.S. official familiar with American intelligence said on Monday.

“This is what Iran does ... The sort of thing you could see Iran doing ... It fits their M.O. (modus operandi),” said the official on condition of anonymity, saying the most obvious explanation for Iran’s statements distancing itself from the incident was that Tehran was “trying to muddy the waters.”

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Writing By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Gregorio

 

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Trump says it would be big mistake for Iran to try anything against U.S
May 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would “suffer greatly” if it targeted U.S. interests after Washington deployed an aircraft carrier and more jet fighters at a time of rising tensions with Tehran.

“We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it will be a very bad mistake,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “If they do anything they will suffer greatly.”

Trump’s comments came after the United Arab Emirates reported four commercial vessels had been sabotaged on Sunday near Fujairah emirate just outside the Strait of Hormuz. Iran sought to distance itself from the incident.

Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 pact between Iran and global powers aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear plans. Since then, the United States has ratcheted up sanctions on Iran, saying it wanted to reduce its oil exports to zero.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a trip to Moscow on Monday and instead stopped in Brussels to share information on “escalating” threats from Iran with European allies and NATO officials, the U.S. special representative for Iran said.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Richard Chang

 

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American B-52s fly first mission over Persian Gulf to ‘send message’ to Iran
13 May, 2019

B-52 bombers have commenced air operations from the US base in Qatar, as Washington continues to amass its forces in the Persian Gulf. The White House says it is to deter an alleged Iranian “attack on US interests.”

US Central Command (CENTCOM) made no attempt to keep Sunday’s operations secret, broadcasting photos of the B-52H Stratofortress bombers as they took off from Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar.
#B52's touched down today at Al Udeid Air Base, as part of the #Bomber Task Force defending U.S. forces and interest in the region.Bomber Task Force brings unique capabilities@usairforce@DeptofDefense@CENTCOM@US_Stratcom@AFGlobalStrike#USAF#AirForce#Aircraft#Aviationpic.twitter.com/zrje0XH8dL
— US AFCENT (@USAFCENT) May 10, 2019
Precise details of the mission were not publicized, but the Pentagon said its purpose was to “defend American forces and interests in the region.”

The bombers arrived in the CENTCOM region last Friday, which covers the Middle East and Central Asia, joining the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and the USS Kearsarge amphibious ready group.

In all, the ramped up US presence around the Persian Gulf comprises a number of warships – including aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers – a Patriot missile battery, an expeditionary unit of US Marines, as well as several warplanes, including the nuclear-capable B-52s.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton said the buildup was meant to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to the Islamic Republic and ward off a threat, though he provided little detail about what that could be. Tehran sharply denies the accusation, countering that American officials are engaged in “psychological warfare.”

 

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So two Saudi Tankers, 1 Belgium. What about the fourth one? It could be Iraq militants or Bahraini militants or even sent by Qatar!
 

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Two Royal Saudi navy LA Fayette FL 3000‎‏ Dammam and Makkah escorting France aircraft carrier in its way to the Arabian Gulf.

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