UAE launches international investigation after four ships attacked
The United States and France are assisting the UAE in its investigation into the sabotage attack on four commercial cargo ships off the coast of Fujairah, according to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash.
The US has said that Iranian agents, or ‘proxies’ appeared to have been behind the attacks, while Iran’s parliamentary spokesperson Behrouz Nemati has said that “the events that took place in the Emirates were Israeli mischief”.
Nemati was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), but provided no further details on what role Israel may have played in the attacks.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash told a press conference in Dubai on Wednesday that the investigation would be concluded within days.
Dr Gargash would not be drawn on possible Iranian involvement in the sabotage attacks when questioned during the conference.
“I think the UAE is witnessing a storm in the region but we are very committed to de-escalation and stability,” he said. “It's in these times that we need to exercise caution and good judgement. It is easy to throw accusations but it is a difficult situation, there are serious issues and among them is Iranian behaviour.”
On May 12, four commercial ships were damaged in sabotage attacks in the Gulf of Oman, east of Fujairah as they were about to enter the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has in the past threatened to mine the strait, effectively blockading the waterway to prevent shipping. Around 20% of the world’s daily oil supply is transported through the strait.
Saudi Arabia has confirmed that two of its oil tankers were targeted in the attack, while one Norwegian tanker was also damaged.
The incident risks destabilising shipping in the region, with Thina Seltvedt, an oil analyst at Nordea Markets, telling Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that the intent may have been to damage the UAE economy.
“That the goal of the action has been to paralyze the Emirates economy is not at all unthinkable and very possible,” he said.
The United States meanwhile has deployed a naval task force headed by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln into the Arabian Gulf.