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SAUDI ARABIA ramped up the threat of a new Middle East conflagration today as it echoed US claims that Iran had attacked two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran has denied any responsibility for Thursday’s attacks on the ships, one of which was Japanese-owned, and pointed to the questionable timing of the incident – which took place when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran for trade talks.
The US has released grainy footage it says shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from one of the tankers, claiming this constitutes proof of Iranian guilt.
But the ship in question’s owner says crew members reported the attack came from a “flying object,” which contradicts the US claim.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he would “not hesitate” to respond to any threat to the kingdom.
“The problem is in Tehran and not anywhere else. Iran is always the party that’s escalating in the region, carrying out terrorist attacks and criminal attacks either directly or through its proxies,” said the prince.
His administration is waging a brutal war against Houthi militias in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands and backs jihadist terror groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. Bin Salman is also notorious for the “criminal attack” that saw journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he irritated the prince.
Britain has lined up behind US claims that Iran is responsible for the tanker incident, but the UAE yesterday added its voice to appeals for calm and a de-escalation of tensions, a message echoing that of the EU, which has called for “maximum restraint” to avoid a new war in the region.
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