DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates ‘won’t jump the gun’ to accuse Iran of sabotaging ships off its coast, a senior government official said, as rising tensions in the Gulf stoke concerns that the region is teetering on the brink of another war.
In an hour-long briefing, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, struck a cautious tone, stressing his country is ‘very committed to deescalation’ and would exercise ‘caution and prudence’ in a ‘brittle, difficult’ situation. He said an investigation of the attack on the four ships, which includes Saudi and Norwegian vessels, is being conducted with the help of American and French investigators and it’s expected to be completed within days.
‘We need to address Iran’s behavior clearly, but at the same time not to be baited into crisis,’ Gargash said in an interview with Bloomberg Television late on Wednesday. ‘This is the region we live in and it’s important for us that we manage this crisis.’
Tensions have been rising in the Gulf since the US stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil and slapped crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. On Wednesday, the US cited threats as it ordered its non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq. The Pentagon also accelerated a carrier battle group’s transit to the region and deployed a Patriot anti-missile battery to bolster forces.
Attacks on the ships have further raised tension in the region. The incidents were followed by an attack carried out by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on a Saudi oil pipeline. Still, Gargash was quick to dismiss an anonymous US official’s claim blaming Iran for the ships’ sabotage, saying the UAE is closer to the investigation.