World War 3: How Gulf of Oman attack risks Saudi fury as Iran tensions boil over

Thursday, June 13, 2019
By Paul Martin

OIL tankers sailing from Saudi Arabia have reportedly been hit by a torpedo in the Gulf of Oman as tensions continued to rise between Iran and the Gulf States – heightening the possibility of regional conflict in the Middle East.

Thu, Jun 13, 2019

The US says they aren’t ruling out blaming Iran for the attack that deliberately hit two oil tankers. Iran’s official news agency IRNA said that 44 sailors on the affected ships have now been rescued by the Iranian navy – intensifying the mystery over who carried out the offence, while Defence Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the attacks as “suspicious”. The attack comes a week after the UAE appeared to blame Iran for attacking four more vessels in the same sea.

One Norwegian ship – Front Altair – was confirmed to be both adrift and on fire, according to a maritime intelligence firm, while the other, Kokuka Courageous, was also damaged.

The Chief of the Saudi Arabia-founded Arab League said: “Some parties in the region are trying to instigate fires” – and that the UN Security Council should act immediately.

The UK Government echoed the Royal Navy-linked United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations’ call for extreme caution as the investigation continues.

A spokeswoman said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.”

The incident is yet another blow as crisis grips the region – and oil prices have already shot up by a reported 4.1 percent.

The flashpoint comes as Japanese premier Shinzo Abe is in Tehran in an attempt to soften tensions between the US – a primary ally of Saudi Arabia – and Iran.

Mr Abe is on the second day of his visit, in which he will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an attempt to mediate between Washington and Tehran.

However, the latest incident in the Gulf of Oman could quash any chance of more peace talks if the hostilities end up being linked to Iran.

Foreign minister Javad Zarif responded: “Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.

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