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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reportedly expressed concerns about the security situation in the Persian Gulf and asked the United States for a stronger military presence in the area to counter Iran, which has seized two oil tankers in the past month, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, quoting Gulf and U.S. officials.
After the UAE complained of a lack of strong response from its ally, the U.S., the United States has increased patrolling in the Persian Gulf.
“The Department of Defense will be making a series of moves to bolster our defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told a news briefing on May 12, more than a week after the second tanker was seized.
The U.S. 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, “is working with regional allies and partners to increase the rotation of ships and aircraft patrolling in and around the Strait of Hormuz following Iran’s recent unlawful merchant vessel seizures,” the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said.
“Iran’s unwarranted, irresponsible and unlawful seizure and harassment of merchant vessels must stop,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
According to the Command, Iran has harassed, attacked, or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels over the past two years.
The two most recent incidents took place at the end of April and early May. A commercial oil tanker was seized by Iran on May 3 transiting the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil transit chokepoint between Oman and Iran that connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman. The daily oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz are equivalent to about 21% of the daily petroleum liquids consumption worldwide.
A previous incident occurred six days earlier when the Iranian Navy seized Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet while it transited international waters in the Gulf of Oman. The oil tanker had departed the Mina Saud Port in Kuwait and was destined for Houston, Texas, after being commissioned by U.S. oil giant Chevron.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,