Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers had been sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, in what they describe as attacks on global oil supply.
Tensions rise in the oil-rich region in recent weeks amid the deployment of a growing number of United States military assets to the Middle East due to deteriorating relations with Iran.
On Thursday, the US Maritime Administration issued an advisory warning that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting commercial vessels and oil production infrastructure in the region.
One of the two Saudi vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to customers in the US, Saudi Arabia’s state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Monday. While the agency didn’t mention casualties or oil spills, it did say there had been “significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.”
On Sunday, the UAE said that four commercial cargo ships were targeted by “sabotage operations” off its eastern coast. The apparent sabotage took place near UAE territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of the emirate of Fujairah, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Sunday.
The UAE ministry said authorities were working with local and international agencies to investigate the incident, which it described as a “dangerous development.” It also confirmed there were no injuries or deaths.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that the incidents were “alarming and regrettable,” and requested further information on the alleged sabotage. The Iran spokesman warned against “plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security” and called for “vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements.”
Iran borders the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz.