US believes Iran proxies may be behind tanker attacks, official says

US believes Iran proxies may be behind tanker attacks, official says

US believes Iran proxies may be behind tanker attacks, official says

Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil pipeline booster stations, further intensifying the country's years-long conflict.

The message was delivered on Wednesday by Riyadh's permanent United Nations representative Abdullah bin Yahya al-Maalami, Saudi satellite TV channel Al-Arabiya reported.

The Secretariat General of the Senior Scholars Council said the attacks would make the leadership and people of Saudi Arabia stronger and more determined in the face of terrorism.

May 12: The United Arab Emirates says four commercial ships off its eastern coast "were subjected to sabotage operations", just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets air false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.

Saudi Aramco, the government-controlled oil company, said that as a precaution, it temporarily shut down the pipeline and contained a fire, which caused minor damage to one pumping station.

Notably, the recent attacks come amid mounting tension between Iran and the USA after the Pentagon announced the deployment earlier this week of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf.

"There could be a pretty serious conflict with Iran should they do something to US forces in the region, and that would spike the price of oil", said Josh Graves, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.

Tehran responded to the escalation by threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, a main artery for global oil shipments linking the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman.

The Houthi rebels have launched dozens of drone strikes and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi cities in the past months to retaliate against the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes on their positions in Yemen.

Iran and the USA have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since Tehran began to roll back commitments set out in its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The 746-mile pipeline is actually two pipes that have a total capacity of 4.8 million barrels of crude oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "It is easy to throw accusations but it is a hard situation, there are serious issues and among them is Iranian behavior", he said, mentioning concern about Iran's missiles and regional policy.

But that may change by the end of the year as oil production capacity could drop to under 1% of global supply demand by the end of the year after the US imposed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, analyst said.

In Washington, Trump told reporters he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops to the Mideast, but he's not planned for that and hopefully won't have to plan for that. "We have been bullied by Iran, we have seen aggressive Iranian actions in the region".

The UAE government also said four ships were targeted off its coast.

- A senior military officer in the USA -backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group says "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria".

The attacks occur amid a war of words between Washington and Tehran over sanctions and US military presence in the region. But he also said, "Neither we, nor them is seeking war".

The Ministry of Defense said the Méndez Núñez, with 215 sailors aboard, will not cross the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf with the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Karimi reported from Tehran, Iran.

Related news