U.A.E. Splits With U.S. Over Blame for Oil Tanker Attack in May

By Abbas Al Lawati June 26, 2019 Bloomberg

A U.S. Navy vessel guards the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman.
A U.S. Navy vessel guards the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman. Photographer: Mumen Khatib/AFP via Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates appeared to distance itself from U.S. claims that pinned attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on Iran.

“Honestly we can’t point the blame at any country because we don’t have evidence,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday in Moscow. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.”

While an investigation by the U.A.E., Norway and Saudi Arabia concluded that a “state actor” was most likely behind the incident in May, no nation was singled out. Still, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has said that Iran was almost certainly responsible.

Read: U.A.E.-Led Probe of Oil Tanker Attacks Points to ‘State Actor’

The attack predated the pair of strikes in the Gulf of Oman this month that the U.S. has also blamed on Iran. Vessels were targeted off the U.A.E. coast in May as they made their way toward the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s foremost oil shipping chokepoint.

Iran’s foreign minister has labeled Bolton and the leaders of the U.A.E., Israel and Saudi Arabia as the “B-team” that’s prodding President Donald Trump into going to war with the Islamic Republic. Trump slapped new sanctions on Tehran this week.

With tensions on the rise across the Middle East, the U.A.E.’s top diplomat tried to change tack after talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We are in a region that is tense and important for the world and we don’t want more tension,” said Sheikh Abdullah.

— With assistance by Zainab Fattah, and Verity Ratcliffe

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