The Pentagon has accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard of sabotaging four vessels at the Emirati port of Fujairah that media reported earlier this month, and the reports pushed oil prices higher.
“The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC,” said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, as quoted by Reuters, adding that the attacks were carried out through limpet mines attached to the hulls of the vessels. The official refrained from explanations how the mines were delivered.
The first media that reported the attacks at Fujairah were Iranian and Lebanese. Later, Saudi Arabia reported “sabotage” on two of its vessels although neither Riyadh, nor the UAE made any guesses about the perpetrators. Iran, for its part, condemned the attacks and called for an investigation into the event.
The attacks followed a warning issued by the United States to ships in the Persian Gulf regarding possible attacks by “Iran or its proxies” on vessels in the area. The warning came as a U.S. aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are traveling to the Gulf in a pre-emptive response to a possible Iranian move in the region after Tehran once again said it would close the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. tries to squeeze its oil exports further.
Now, the Pentagon announcement came on the same day that President Trump said he will send 1,500 more troops to the Middle East to play a “mostly protective” role.
"We are going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump said as quoted by Fox News. "Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now and we'll see what happens."
Meanwhile, Washington designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization as part of its efforts to apply increasing pressure on Iran. Commenting on the designation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and should surprise no one. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization, but none of us should be fooled.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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