In a sudden turn of events, four commercial ships have reportedly faced ‘significant damage’ off the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Gulf of Oman, 140km south of the Strait of Hormuz, media reports confirm. This is also the place from where about a third of all oil traded by sea passes through.
As termed by Iranian officials, this so called ‘sabotage’ comes at a time when tension is mounting between Iran and the West.
Tensions between Iran and the US had intensified since Trump pulled out of a 2015 international deal, in an attempt to curb Iran’s nuclear activities and impose increasingly strict sanctions on Tehran.
Currently, the perpetrator of the attacks is uncertain and the political fraternity remains undecided on who should the blame be pinned on.
On the flip side, American officials suspect that Iran is involved; however several officials have cautioned that there is not yet any definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the reported attacks.
Of the four commercial ships, two are oil tankers that belong to Saudi Arabia and are currently in a state of sabotage. The other is a Norwegian tanker damaged in the same area, near the Strait of Hormuz. The fourth ship belongs to the United Arab Emirates, which, like Saudi Arabia, is an avowed enemy of Iran.
Reports all over the media are suggesting that all these attacks have been ‘purposefully’ made in order to agitate Iran in going up against United States in arms. The New York Times on Monday has already reported that “a top US defence official has presented an updated military plan to Trump’s administration that envisioned sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, should Iran attack US forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.”
Intertanko is an association of independent tanker owners and operators. Their spokesperson has said that it had seen pictures showing that “at least two ships have holes in their sides due to the impact of a weapon.”
Thome Ship Management, a Norwegian firm which manages the Norwegian ship has confirmed that the ship has been “struck by an unknown object on the waterline” while anchored off Fujairah.