Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in no doubt about the origin of a second attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. He blamed arch-rival Iran on Sunday and vowed his kingdom “won’t hesitate to deal with any threat” to its interests.
In an interview for pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, the crown prince said his country is ready to counter any and all attempts to escalate the conflict:
We do not want a war in the region … But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests.
The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his [diplomatic] efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, agreed. He called for a “swift and decisive” response to any threats against regional energy supplies after the “terrorist acts”.
Thursday’s oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman came as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was in Tehran to meet Iran’s leaders.
They came exactly four weeks after tankers were targeted in the region under similar circumstances, as reported by Breitbart News.
On that occasion the sabotage efforts were mounted off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) near the Strait of Hormuz, damaging two ships from other nations, one of them registered to Norway.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also assessed Iran was responsible for attacks.
“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran was responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” he said at a State Department briefing.
Pompeo said the assessment was based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and “the fact that no proxy groups operating in the area have the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
The UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Saturday called on world powers “to secure international navigation and access to energy”, a plea echoed by other Middle East oil producers after the incident sent crude prices soaring.
Iran has repeatedly warned it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the U.S.