On Sunday, the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news network broke the news about an attack on a number of oil tankers in Emirati waters. The news was denied by the UAE authorities shortly later. But finally, on Monday morning, the Emirati authorities confirmed the news, saying that it was a “sabotage attack” on commercial ships docking in the Fujairah Port. So far, no party has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Arab emirate itself is implementing a heavy censorship regime on news regarding the case to prevent updates on the accurate attack site, the type of attack, the damages to the assets, and other issues.
The media have reported that an international investigation team is heading to the UAE to examine the incident. The Saudi oil minister, on the other side, said two super oil tankers were among the vessels damaged belonged to the kingdom. The incident gives rise to some questions. What motivations may drive such attacks? And what possible consequences could they bring to the future region and even to the world developments?
Who is behind the attack? Possible scenarios
As it was said, no party has yet shouldered the responsibility for the attack. But three theories can be considered.
1. The attack is an act of force projection by forces whose people over the past years have been subjected to the most crimes of the Saudi-UAE military campaign against neighboring Yemen. Some Western powers are of course accomplices to the anti-Yemeni crimes by providing the Arab coalition with weapons and also logistics. Perhaps the tumultuous regional situation in which these countries have a hand provides a ground for such a warning action to send a message telling the aggressors that their vital interests can be easily brought to endangerment. Further, such an incident can happen in other places, the probable message tells.
2. The attack can be blamed on a side seeking to further push the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies into the abyss of dependence on the US. By reinstating the Iran oil sanctions, the administration of President Donald Trump has forced Saudi Arabia and the UAE to increase their oil supply so that shortage caused by Iranian oil cut not upset the global crude markets. In a situation already alarming, such incidents in an Arab country like UAE can pave the way for further reliance of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on the US and of course further compliance with Washington’s policies and decisions. For the US it is the best development to see the destabilization of the oil-rich countries. The next developments, however, will be the base for the test of the validity of such a theory.
3. This could be a conspiracy by invisible hands which want to push the regional situation to an explosive point. This is in a time when there is no doubt that the Israeli regime, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia are eagerly waiting to see a US-Iran military confrontation. On Monday, Falih al-Fayadh commented on the undeclared goals of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Iraq, saying that Pompeo visited Baghdad to ensure that the US does not seek military confrontation with Iran. He further said that it was the US worry about the Iranian reactions after the recent wave of anti-Tehran pressures that pushed Pompeo to travel to Iraq, a country neighboring Iran and holding strategic relations with Tehran. This was not good news for Tel Aviv, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. So it is never unlikely that the trio has staged an attack, without serious damage to the Emirati and Saudi economies, in a bid to disturb the regional and even international atmosphere to pave the way for military escalation. Iran’s foreign ministry’s statement hints to such a plot. Suggesting that such an attack will undermine the health of shipping in the region, the statement warned of possible “conspiracies” by culprits seeking to destabilize the region.
What did the attack prove?
Regardless of who is really behind the attack and what are the drives for it, some realities have once again proved themselves.
The first reality is the negative impacts of adventures and destabilizing actions by Washington and its regional proxies in the very sensitive Persian Gulf region. In fact, the war against Yemen, the intensification of the US military presence in the region, and the heightened economic pressures on Iran cannot go without negative effects on regional security. As the US presses forward with its unilateralism in the region against the Axis of Resistance—comprised of Iran, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon—, the outcomes will not be better than destabilization and chaos.
The second reality is the impossibility of providing regional security without the participation of the regional powers and only with the monopoly of the colonial powers. Iran has repeatedly accentuated the need for regional consensus for security, adding that confronting foreign intervention is a prerequisite to the region to reach calm. But the non-democratic nature of the governments in the Arab states of Persian Gulf gives birth to “dependent security” in the Arab region.
The third reality is the fragility of global economic security. It reminds of the commitment of the global community to mobilize its efforts to stop the licentious US unilateralism under President Donald Trump. Perhaps the reason behind the severe censorship of the news, even by the mainstream media, was the shared fear of impacts on the global energy and financial markets, among the US embargo on the Iranian and Venezuelan oil and the incapability of other oil suppliers to make up for the shortage that makes the market highly fragile.