On Thursday, June 13, two tankers were attacked in the Arabian Sea in the Strait of Hormuz. The attack took place a month after the sabotage of four ships in the same waters. Nearly 20% of the world’s oil passes through this strait, especially Saudi and Iranian oil. The attack represents a dangerous escalation, opposing the United States, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel on one hand, and Iran on the other hand.

Donald Trump accuses Iran of being behind these attacks, allegations which Iran strongly denies.

Did Iran attack the oil tankers?

Washington hastily attributed Thursday’s operation to Tehran, publishing a grainy video showing the crew of an Iranian ship removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the targeted tankers. The UN has cautiously called for an independent investigation. Meanwhile, the Japanese owner of one of the oil tankers that were attacked claims that the vessel was struck by a projectile and not by a mine.

I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship, said  Yutaka Katada, president of shipping company Kokuka Sangyo

These attacks remind us of the “Tankers war” at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. It also reminds us of the Vietnam war which started with attacks on US warships for which North Vietnam was blamed. Many years later, we learnt that these attacks had been carried on by the United States.

Preventing the escalation

Since its withdrawal from an international nuclear deal in May 2018, the US has subjected Iran to an intense pressure  strategy aimed at forcing the country to reduce is nuclear ambitions and give up its regional influence. In short, the US tries to bring down the regime currently in power in Iran.

This latest escalation happens as several diplomatic efforts are being carried on to prevent it. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tehran on Thursday, a few days German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass.


Omar Hajjar is a journalist based in the UK. An investigative reporter, he has lived in 3 different countries in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

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