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Saudi Arabia strongly backs 'swift response' after Gulf of Oman incident

Saudi Arabia strongly backs 'swift response' after Gulf of Oman incident
A Saudi minister is demanding a “swift and decisive response” to any threat to global oil supplies, calling the recent attacks on two tankers “a terrorist act.” Riyadh has agreed with US claims that Iran was behind that incident.

A “swift and decisive response to the threat to energy supply” is needed to ensure “the stability of markets and the confidence of consumers,” Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih was quoted in a tweet from his office. He also claimed “the recent terrorist acts” in Middle Eastern waters “must be directed against the global energy supply chain.”

This week, two tankers – both carrying petroleum products to Asian ports – were hit by mystery explosions in the Gulf of Oman, close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz. 44 crew members on board both ships were rescued and no casualties were reported.

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Although many details of the incidents remain unclear, the US was quick to pin the blame on Iran, claiming the vessels were hit by naval mines. Those claims were supported by the UK, while other key allies, for instance, Germany, were far more cautious about naming names.

A Japanese company in charge of one of the damaged tankers, the Kokuka Courageous, dismissed American suspicions against Iran, saying it was unlikely that underwater weapons were used.

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But Saudi Arabia seems to be siding with the US, with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir telling CNN: “We have no reason to disagree with the Secretary of State.” Al-Jubeir was referring to Mike Pompeo, who’d singled out Iran as the likely mastermind of the attack.

Iran, for its part, denies any involvement in the Gulf of Oman incident, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif noting the curious timing and nature of the incident – it happened to ships carrying Japan-related cargo and right at the time of Shinzo Abe’s visit to Tehran.

Zarif also accused the US of moving to “Plan B: Sabotage diplomacy” in an attempt to “cover up its economic terrorism” against the Iranians.

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