News ID: 265725
Published: 0313 GMT February 16, 2020

Oman sees biggest Persian Gulf clash risk in Strait of Hormuz

Oman sees biggest Persian Gulf clash risk in Strait of Hormuz
Hamad I Mohammed/REUTERS
A US sailor keeps watch from the captain's bridge onboard the USS John C. Stennis as it makes its way to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on December 21, 2018.

The risk of a military confrontation is higher in the Strait of Hormuz than anywhere else in the Persian Gulf region, Oman’s foreign minister said, due in part to the growing number of military vessels from different countries that are patrolling it.

The waterway between Iran and Oman – 33 km (21 miles) wide at its narrowest point – is the conduit for some 30% of all crude and other oil liquids traded by sea, according to Reuters.

“There are a lot of military ships in the Hormuz (area) and our concern is there could be a mistake,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said late on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.

That would make that area the riskiest flashpoint in the Persian Gulf over the coming months, he added.

Under the United States’ pressure, many countries have sent military vessels to the region to what they claim safeguard the waterway after several oil tankers were targeted in the region last year.

Washington is leading a naval mission to protect oil tankers and cargo ships that includes Britain. France leads a separate European mission, and Japan, Russia, South Korea and China have also sent naval assets to the region.

The US and its regional ally Saudi Arabia quickly blamed Iran for the suspicious attacks on tankers.

However, Tehran rejected the accusations of its involvement as baseless, saying the incidents appear to be false flags meant to frame the Islamic Republic.

The attacks came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US after Washington withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its missile program and regional influence as well.

Tensions between Iran and the US deteriorated after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.

The US has also engaged in significant regional military buildup, including by sending an aircraft carrier, a bomber task force, an assault ship, and around additional forces to the Middle East.

Iran has repeatedly said that foreign forces are causing insecurity and instability in the Strait of Hormuz with their military presence in the strategic sea passage.

Tehran stressed that the responsibility rests with Persian Gulf littoral states to ensure the water body’s security and Iran will continue to ensure security of maritime navigation in in the Strait of Hormuz.




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