Suspected attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman

Explosives caused fires to break out on two tankers anchored in the Gulf of Oman. The Norwegian Maritime Authority has confirmed that one of the ships was attacked. The incident occurred in one of the world's most important waterways, which connects the oil-rich Gulf region with the open sea. For weeks now tensions have been growing in the region between the US and Iran. Who was behind the attack and what does this portend?

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Die Welt (DE) /

Tehran took a calculated risk

US Foreign Secretary accused Tehran of carrying out the attack. The daily Die Welt also believes this was the case:

“No, the Iranians are neither dumb nor suicidal. They believe that US President Donald Trump is a loudmouth who wants to avoid a war at all costs. And they believe the US's allies know that too. So this is all about taking a calculated risk and sending a clear message to the world: Look here, we're the ones who call the tune in this part of the world. So come to us and we'll work things out. ... The European Union should condemn Tehran for sponsoring state terrorism, end the farcical nuclear deal that only benefits the Iranians, and make it clear that the Strait of Hormuz will be kept open by force if necessary. That would show the regime in Tehran that it made a big mistake this time.”

De Tijd (BE) /

Trump playing into Iranian hardliners' hands

The US's actions have increased the threat of a military escalation, De Tijd warns:

“The American sanctions have left Iran with its back to the wall. Its oil exports have all but come to a standstill and foreign investments have dried up. At the same time the US has threatened similar punishment for any country or company that does business with Iran. Such a tough stance plays right into the hands of the hardliners in Iran. ... When Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal last year he claimed this would improve security in the region. But as it turns out the opposite is the case. ... An attack on Iran would lead to an unforeseeable chain reaction in the whole region and maybe even beyond. That's a nightmare scenario.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

It all began in 1979

US correspondent Federico Rampini explains the background to the attacks in La Repubblica:

“The tensions between Riyadh and Tehran that are being fought out in bloody proxy wars in the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen go back to 1979. That was the year zero of modern Islamic fundamentalism. Forty years ago the Khomeinist Revolution triumphed in Iran. At the same time the Grand Mosque of Mecca was occupied by Sunni fundamentalists. Fearing that it could be deposed like the shah of Iran, the Saudi monarchy decided to ally itself with the most reactionary part of its clergy and committed itself to backward-looking policies. The fierce competition between the Saudis and the Iranians in the race to spread fundamentalism and the jihad was born in 1979.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Extreme caution needed now

El Periódico de Catalunya argues that any reaction which doesn't contribute to a de-escalation is irresponsible:

“Neither the accusations against Iran made by Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - without any concrete evidence - nor the position of those who are playing down the danger of an escalation appear to be reacting appropriately. Because without knowing what really happened in the Strait, the only responsible attitude is that of those who, like the EU and Japan, call for calm and for trust and respect to be restored among the opposing sides to prevent this already unstable region from becoming even more unstable, triggering an increase in petrol prices and damaging the economy.”