3 Western countries part of probe into attack on ships: UAE

Published May 15, 2019, 6:51 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Three Western countries will be part of an investigation into mysterious “sabotage attacks” on ships in the Gulf, an Emirati official said on Tuesday.

The official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the United States, France and Norway were involved in the investigation along with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The official said the investigation into Sunday’s incident was launched with the support of the Western experts.

The ships — including two Saudi oil tankers, an Emirati ship and the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory — were docked in the sea off the coast of Fujairah, the official added.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE gave details on the nature of the attacks or accused anyone of responsibility.

Fujairah port is the only Emirati terminal located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the United States.

The United States has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats.

Shiite-majority Iran rivals Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia for influence in the Middle East, with the two taking opposing sides in multiple regional conflicts including in Yemen.

On Tuesday, drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemen rebels shut down one of Saudi Arabia’s major oil pipelines, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the sabotage of the ships.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.

Huthi rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Twitter that the attacks were “a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide” against the Yemeni people.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war to bolster the internationally recognised government’s efforts against the Huthis in March 2015.