Friday, June 5, 2020 | ePaper

Diplomatic stalemate fuels dangerous Saudi-Iran standoff

  • Print


The Iranian oil tanker Sabiti is the lastest target in a still unexplained series of apparent tit-for-tat attacks involving Iran and Saudi Arabia on shipping and oil facilities in and around the Gulf and the Red Sea.

AFP, Abu Dhabi :
The dangerous rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, played out in proxy wars and mystery strikes, is destined to fester as long as neither reaches across the gulf that divides them, observers say.
At the Beirut Institute Summit in the United Arab Emirates this week, heated sessions dominated by the hostilities in the region warned of drawn-out disputes in the strategic region as Riyadh and Tehran vie for influence.
Former US ambassador Robert Blackwill lamented the fact that despite nearing a military confrontation in recent weeks, the two are "are not systematically talking to one another to reduce their differences".
"If there is no diplomacy, we will be in a war. And one thing about war is that once it begins, you can't always see its outcome and that should worry us all.
"I see a minority here in wanting diplomacy with Iran," Blackwill said, after influential Prince Turki al-Faisal defended Saudi Arabia's shutting the door on talks with Iran, regarding it as an existential threat to the kingdom.
"How can we hold discussions with a regime that openly declares it is our enemy?" asked Prince Turki, the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, who also served as ambassador to Washington.
Riyadh, the Sunni power which rules the birthplace of Islam, has been at odds with Tehran since the Islamic revolution of 1979 ushered in a Shiite theocracy and set the two on a collision course.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations following 2016 attacks by demonstrators on its missions in Iran after the kingdom executed revered Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
But their decades-long struggle for regional dominance has flared in recent months, with a series of attacks on oil infrastructure and tankers which have raised fears of an all-out war.
Despite the seriousness of the attacks, which have sent shockwaves through the energy markets as well as global shipping, the circumstances remain vague with the two countries tip-toeing around key issues including who is to blame.
Riyadh accuses Tehran of being behind September 14 attacks on two vast oil facilities in the east of the kingdom that were claimed by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels.
But Saudi Arabia has not adopted the American version that claims the attacks were launched from Iranian territory, and says it awaits the conclusion of a probe being conducted in collaboration with the United Nations.
Riyadh's position seems to suggest that the Saudis are avoiding blaming Iran directly, so they are not obliged to mount a military response that could have catastrophic repercussions.
Tehran meanwhile has been economical with details after the state firm which owns the Iranian tanker Sabiti said its hull was hit by two explosions last week off the Saudi port of Jeddah.
Iran accused a foreign government of being behind the attack but did not point the finger at a specific one. And the company denied reports the attack had originated from Saudi soil.
In May, another Iranian vessel broke down at about the same location and was repaired in Saudi Arabia, where it was held until its release in July.

More News For this Category

Prison riot kills 23 in Colombia as Chile enforces virus curfew

Prison riot kills 23 in Colombia as Chile enforces virus curfew

AFP :Panic over the spread of the coronavirus sparked a prison riot in Colombia that killed 23 inmates on Sunday, as Chile became the latest Latin American country to announce

US envoy says Kabul, Taliban in first prisoner exchange talks

US envoy says Kabul, Taliban in first prisoner exchange talks

AFP :The Afghan government and the Taliban on Sunday held their first discussion on arranging prisoner exchanges, a key step in a broader push for peace, the US special envoy

US Secretary of State Pompeo visits Kabul amid multiple crises

US Secretary of State Pompeo visits Kabul amid multiple crises

AFP  :US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday, a pool report said, amid an ongoing political crisis, a raging Taliban insurgency and rising

Queen Elizabeth II moves out of palace as aide tests virus positive

NDTV :The 93-year-old monarch shifted out of the palace to Windsor Castle indefinitely on Thursday as a "precaution" and reports are that she is healthy.The aide is believed to have

Fears Bali will emerge as Indonesia's coronavirus hotspot

Fears Bali will emerge as Indonesia's coronavirus hotspot

Al Jazeera News :Denpasar, Indonesia - Authorities in Bali will allow tens of thousands of people to attend Hindu ceremonies for the island's new year, or Nyepi, celebrations this week

Zero coronavirus cases in North Korea?

Zero coronavirus cases in North Korea?

AFP :North Korea has said it has released almost all the foreigners it quarantined as a precaution.With international focus on the coronavirus, North Korea has doubled down on its missile

Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

AP, Dubai :Iran's supreme leader Sunday refused U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments

N Korea says Trump's letter offers anti-virus cooperation

N Korea says Trump's letter offers anti-virus cooperation

AP, Seoul :President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the viral pandemic, Kim's

Netanyahu offers to step down next year in unity deal

Netanyahu offers to step down next year in unity deal

AP, Jerusalem :Israel's prime minister Saturday said he is ready to step down next year as part of a proposed power-sharing agreement with his chief rival meant to steer the

Virus concerns lead to 'public' meetings without the public

Virus concerns lead to 'public' meetings without the public

AP, Jefferson City :First, Oklahoma lawmakers excluded the public from the Capitol because of coronavirus concerns.Then with the public gone, lawmakers made an emergency change to the state's open-meetings law