Four commercial vessels targeted by ‘sabotage’ near UAE waters: Foreign ministry

Four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019

Four commercial vessels targeted by ‘sabotage’ near UAE waters: Foreign ministry

  • Comes amid rising tensions between neighboring Iran and the US
  • Rumors about ships inside the port being sabotaged were unfounded

DUBAI: Four commercial vessels were targeted by "acts of sabotage" near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday morning, the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement amid rising tensions between neighboring Iran and the US.

The statement added the vessels, that were targeted near Fujairah and at a distance of 115 kilometers from Iran,  were “civilian trading vessels of various nationalities”, and that the UAE was investigating the incident with local and international bodies. 

Rumors about ships inside the port being sabotaged were unfounded, the ministry added.

The port of Fujairah continues to operate as normal and there were no victims of the sabotage incident.

The ministry added that targeting merchant ships and threatening the lives of crew members is a “dangerous development,” and that the government considers the acts of sabotage to be a threat to the safety and security of the UAE. 

The country called on the international community to prevent any party from compromising maritime safety and security.  

The ministry statement was tweeted by the official news agency WAM.

Lebanon’s pro-Iran satellite channel Al-Mayadeen falsely reported that a series of explosions had struck Fujairah’s port, and the reports were repeated by state media in Iran.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of the Iranian Parliament’s national security committee, said the “explosions” showed that the security of Gulf states was “like glass.”


The sabotage incident follows a US Maritime Administration warning last week that Iran could target commercial sea traffic. “Since early May, there is an increased possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take action against US and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure, after recently threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz,” the organization said.

“Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or US military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab El Mandeb or the Arabian Gulf.”

Bahrain condemned the acts of sabotage, saying it was a "criminal act" that threatened maritime traffic in the region. The kingdom said it stood with the UAE.

The US deployed the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the region on May 4 in response to what it said was an “escalated threat” from Iran.

A senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander issued a veiled threat on Sunday to the US military presence in the Gulf.

“An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities,” said Amirali Hajjizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division. “If they make a move we will hit them in the head.”

Earlier on Sunday, the UAE emirate of Fujairah denied media reports that claimed a series of explosions had rocked its port on Sunday. 

Claims from a number of news outlets, which were then shared on social media, said there had been explosions on Sunday morning and that fires had broken out on some of the docked oil tankers in the port.

Fujairah government’s media office tweeted a statement on Sunday denying there had been any explosions and that operations were continuing as normal.

It also called on media organizations to be “accurate” in their reporting and to only publish information once it was “confirmed by official sources.”

The harbor master of Fujairah port, who had been on shift at the time, also confirmed that there was no truth to the reports.
 

 


Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

Updated 09 December 2019

Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

  • Appeal of militant groups such as the Al Qaidam Daesh, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban are in decline, poll suggests
  • The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai

DUBAI: Militant groups in the Arab world face a gradual decline and most Arabs oppose the use of religion for political gain, a new survey suggests.

The appeal of extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban is likely to fade over the next 10 years, researchers found.

The survey indicates that most Arabs view corruption as the main problem in their home country and the leading cause of conflict in the Arab world.

 

Daesh (Islamic State) fighters march in Raqqa, Syria, at the height of their power in 2014. (AP file photo)

Researchers also found overwhelming approval for developments in female empowerment such as Saudi women driving and a new inheritance law in Tunisia, and most Arabs expect further progress in their own countries in the next 10 years.

The survey’s findings on political Islam were “good news” for the region, said political science professor Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. The Middle East had had enough of extremism and Arabs realized that political groups based on religion were “taking them nowhere,” Abdulla told Arab News.

“Indeed, we have seen the ugly face of it during the four to five years of Daesh’s control of large areas in Syria and Iraq. So it is natural to see there is a decline in the popularity of these parties. But much more important are the predictions that support for religious parties, whether moderate or extremist, is in sharp decline.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

“People are becoming aware that there has been some kind of abuse and overuse of people’s emotions for political gains by these religious movements. The foremost is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is going through its worst moment.”

The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai. The 12th annual event will explore events and trends expected over the next 10 years, with 18 key speakers including former ministers, government officials, industry experts, international strategists, writers and media professionals. 

 

ALSO READ:

Poll bodes well for future of women’s empowerment in the Arab world

Arabs fed up with corruption, survey suggests

Study sees religion as the moral compass of Arab societies