JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday called for international action to halt Iranian state piracy targeting commercial shipping in the Arabian Gulf.
“Any disruption of the freedom of international maritime traffic is a violation of international law and the international community must do what is necessary to reject it and deter it,” the Saudi Cabinet said.
The Saudi statement follows Iran’s seizure last week of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces illegally boarded the Stena Impero and ordered it to divert to an Iranian port.
The tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
Britain has called the seizure an act of “state piracy.”
Iran continued to issue threats on Tuesday, warning that it kept a watch on all shipping in the Gulf.
“We observe all enemy ships, particularly America, point-by-point from their origin until the moment they enter the region,” said Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, head of Iran’s navy. Drones recorded images, he said.
“We have complete images and a large archive of the daily and moment-by-moment traffic of the coalition forces and America.”
France, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark support British plans for a European-led naval mission to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, their EU diplomats said on Tuesday. Spain, Sweden, Poland and Germany also showed interest.
The UK said the mission could be run by a joint Franco-British command and would not directly involve the EU, NATO or the US.
Iraq, which counts its bigger neighbor Iran and the US as its main allies, said on Tuesday Tehran had reassured it that there would be freedom of international maritime navigation in the Gulf.
Iran communicated this to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi during a visit by him to Tehran on Monday, the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement.
“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (gave) reassurances to the Iraqi delegation ... around guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz and respect for international law guaranteeing that,” the statement said.
Iraq has sought a mediation role to calm US-Iran tension in the region, fearing that any violent escalation between Washington and the Islamic Republic could play out on Iraqi soil, where both Iran-backed militias and US forces operate in close proximity.