situation report

Jun 7, 2019 | 18:55 GMT

2 mins read

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Norway: Report on Oil Tanker Attack Avoids Iran Accusation

What Happened: In a report delivered to the U.N. Security Council on June 6, the United Arab Emirates classified a May 12 incident involving four oil tankers damaged in the Persian Gulf off the coast of the Emirati port of Fujairah as a "sophisticated and coordinated" act by a state actor, Reuters reported. The statement stopped short of blaming Iran for the attack, which damaged the vessels, two from Saudi Arabia and one each from Norway and the United Arab Emirates. A Saudi diplomat, however, did accuse Tehran of instigating the attack.

Why It Matters: The careful wording of the report could be an effort to not escalate the dispute with Iran over this incident, even though signs point to its involvement, including U.S. intelligence and Pentagon statements blaming the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The hesitance in the statement to directly name Iran could also be due to Norway's desire to highlight the risk to shipping without stirring any direct conflict with Iran.

Background: The May 12 oil tanker attacks have led to a temporary heightened risk for the shipping, insurance and energy sectors in and around the Arabian Peninsula. Unsurprisingly, for the sake of its own energy- and shipping-dependent economy, the United Arab Emirates has sought to raise awareness of risk to ensure the international community is helping prevent future attacks. At the same time, it does not want to further inflate the incident in the news media, which could damage the perception of safety in and around the country.

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