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Hours before the British overseas territory Gibraltar released the Iranian oil tanker detained last month, the commander of the Iranian Navy warned the U.S and the UK to have their forces leave the Persian Gulf “or face a humiliating exit,” re-igniting tensions just as the tanker release was supposed to ease the stand-off.
Several high-profile incidents in recent weeks and months have increased the tension between Iran and the West in the Middle East and in the most important oil shipping corridor in the world, the Strait of Hormuz, which is in close proximity to Iranian coasts.
In one of the latest incidents in the Gulf, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in what appeared to be a retaliatory move after Gibraltar seized the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1—released today—with the help of the UK Royal Marines at the beginning of July.
The U.S.—whose President Donald Trump said in June that countries that get their crude oil via the shipping routes in the Middle East should protect their own ships along the lanes—is trying to garner broad international support for escorting oil tankers in the Gulf after the recent incidents. So far only the UK has said it would join the U.S. in protecting tankers after the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran.
According to comments reported by Iranian media, the Commander of the Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said on Wednesday that “The US, Britain and the Zionist regime must know that a naval Islamic resistance front is in the making.”
“Enemies of the region should know that the era of plundering the region’s wealth is over. The looters should thus leave the region as soon as possible, otherwise a humiliating withdrawal awaits them,” said Khanzadi, as carried by Iranian media.
“The era of hypocritical stunts and roaming freely around in the Persian Gulf is over,” the chief of Iran’s Navy forces added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.