Iran under diplomatic fire over provocations in Persian Gulf

Source: Iran under diplomatic fire over provocations in Persian Gulf –

American allies in the Middle East and beyond point finger at Tehran after US shows evidence that it was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Iran decries “Iranophobic campaign” waged by the United States.

In the face of heavy diplomatic pressure following US accusations that Tehran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Islamic republic said on Friday that blaming it for attacks on the shipping vessels was alarming.

“We are in charge of maintaining security of the Strait and we rescued the crew of those attacked tankers in the shortest possible time … US Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo’s accusations towards Iran is alarming,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

The US military released a video late on Thursday that it said showed troops from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the targeted vessels, the Japanese-owned oil tanker Kokuka Courageous.

The US military’s Central Command also released photographs showing the apparent mine, which attaches to the side of a ship magnetically, before it was removed later in the day.

Iran has denied being involved in the attack, calling it an “unfounded claim” in the United States’ “Iranophobic campaign.”

Meanwhile, the UK said it was working on the basis that Iran is responsible for the attacks, and warned Iran that these actions were “deeply unwise,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

“This is deeply worrying and comes at a time of already huge tension. I have been in contact with Pompeo and, while we will be making our own assessment soberly and carefully, our starting point is obviously to believe our US allies,” Hunt said in a statement.

“We are taking this extremely seriously and my message to Iran is that if they have been involved it is a deeply unwise escalation which poses a real danger to the prospects of peace and stability in the region,” he added.

Saudi Arabia also agreed with the American assessment that Iran was behind the suspected attacks, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said.

“We have no reason to disagree with the [US] secretary of state. We agree with him,” Jubeir told CNN. “Iran has a history of doing this.”

Saudi Arabia also said early Friday that its military intercepted five drones launched by Iran-backed Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting the kingdom, including the Abha regional airport. The kingdom said a similar attack Wednesday on the Abha airport wounded 26 people.

The United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash called the alleged attacks in the Gulf of Oman a “major and dangerous escalation” that requires the international community to scramble to protect regional stability and security.

“Wisdom and collective responsibility are needed to prevent more escalation,” Gargash said in a Twitter post.

Egypt also condemned any acts that undermine the safety of waterways in the Gulf region, its foreign ministry said, adding that Cairo was “following with concern” the news of the attack.

Qatar called for an international investigation into the suspected attacks.

A foreign ministry statement carried on state news agency QNA condemned what it called acts of destruction “regardless of who is behind them” and warned against tampering with the security of the Gulf and broader region.

It urged all parties to show restraint and stop escalations.

The United Nations warned that the world cannot afford “a major confrontation in the Gulf.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council: “I strongly condemn any attack against civilians. Facts must be established and responsibilities clarified.”


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