UAE slams Iranian aggression but calls for calm amid oil tanker attack investigation

1 / 2
Saudi oil tanker Al-Marzoqah, one of the four tankers damaged in sabotage attacks. (AFP)
2 / 2
UAE Navy boats next to Al Marzoqah Saudi Arabia tanker are seen off the Port of Fujairah, UAE May 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 16 May 2019

UAE slams Iranian aggression but calls for calm amid oil tanker attack investigation

  • Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash says investigation underway
  • Too early to say who is responsible but Iranian behavior central to regional problems

DUBAI: The UAE is “very committed to de-escalation” after the sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah on Sunday, a senior minister said Wednesday.

An investigation is underway and due to be completed within days, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said, refusing to state who was responsible. But speaking in Dubai, he added that “Iranian behavior” was at the center of regional problems.

Though declining to name a suspect in the sabotage, Gargash says “Iranian behavior” is at the center of regional problems.
“We need to emphasize caution and good judgment. It is easy to throw accusations but it is a difficult situation, there are serious issues and among them is Iranian behavior,” he said. “We have been bullied by Iran, we have seen aggressive Iranian action in the region.”

He added that the UAE has handed a letter to the security council on the sabotage of the oil tankers. 

Gargash also talked about the threat from Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, where the UAE is part of a coalition supporting the government against the militants.

On Tuesday, drones attacked two pumping stations on a pipeline running between the country’s east and west coasts.

“We will also retaliate and retaliate hard when we see the Houthis hit civilian targets within Saudi Arabia,” Gargash said.

His comments come as tensions escalate in the region, with the US deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers in response to Iran-related threats. The US and other European countries on Wednesday announced they were scaling back their presence in Iraq where powerful Iran-backed armed groups hold sway.

Ratcheting up the rhetoric, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major Gen.Hossein Salami, said on Wednesday they were "on the cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy."

 


Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

Updated 16 min 11 sec ago

Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

  • The Syrian Observatory reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control
  • The Idlib region is one of the last holdouts of opposition forces

DAMASCUS: Thousands have returned to their hometowns in northwest Syria after military advances by government loyalist against militants and allied rebels, state media said Sunday.
“Thousands of citizens return to their villages and towns of the northern Hama countryside and the southern Idlib countryside,” state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control.
Since August 31, a cease-fire announced by regime backer Russia has largely held in northwestern Syria, though the Observatory has reported sporadic bombardment.
SANA said the returns came amid “government efforts to return the displaced to their towns and villages.”
The Idlib region of around three million people, many of them dispaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Moscow announced the cease-fire late last month after four months of deadly violence that displaced 400,000 people, most of whom fled north within the jihadist-run bastion, according to the United Nations.
Regime forces had chipped away at the southern edges of the jihadist-run stronghold throughout August, retaking towns and villages in the north of Hama province and the south of Idlib province.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Assad’s regime now controls more than 60 percent of the country after notching up a series of victories against rebels and jihadists with key Russian backing since 2015.
But a large chunk of Idlib, fully administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate since January, as well as a Kurdish-held swathe of the oil-rich northeast, remain beyond its reach.