Fujairah Sabotage Attack: Fishing in the Persian Gulf’s troubled waters?
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Fujairah Sabotage Attack: Fishing in the Persian Gulf’s troubled waters?

By Mehdi Dehnavi

Fujairah Sabotage Attack: Fishing in the Persian Gulf’s troubled waters?

Image Attribute: Video Showing Damaged Norwegian Tanker Emerges After Reported Fujairah "Sabotage" Attacks. The ship involved Andrea Victory (IMO:  9288849/MMSI:  257358000) / Source: EHA News

The sabotage operation against oil tankers in the UAE's Fujairah port is a strange incident by all means. In a situation where the region is experiencing a high level of tension due to US military movements, the occurrence of such dangerous incidents cannot be unjustified.

The release of the incident’s news has also added to the complexity of the puzzle. The way and manner of the incident news release have added to the complexity of the puzzle. For the first time, Iranian news sources and a not-so-authoritative Russian news agency worked on the issue.

Then, the UAE government, despite initially denying the incident from the very beginning, in the following hours, without giving details of the incident and its manner of operation, confirmed the source of the news and said the incident did not have any significant casualties and losses.

The important point is that neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia, whose ships were affected by this incident, at first, they did not directly and clearly accuse any specific group or country in this regard.
Who benefits from this incident?

Iran is seriously concerned about any increasing tensions in the region, while the United States is clearly and deliberately seeking to militarize the atmosphere and tangle the situation.

Iran's regional rivals from Israel to the Arab countries of the region are clearly welcoming and benefiting from increased tensions in Iran-US relations.

However, it is unlikely that Iran will be behind an incident that does not mean anything other than playing on its enemies' land.

During the Iran-Iraq war, when Baghdad began targeting Iranian oil tankers and shipping lines to cut off Iran's economic arteries, Iran, after a long delay, attacked oil tankers carrying energy from the Arab Gulf states to counteract it.

Iran's strategy was based on the idea that the Persian Gulf should be equally secure or insecure for everyone. This strategy is also expressed in the current situation, but it is unlikely that someone will be prepared to pay for the costs and endure the consequences.

In those days, Iran, in order to prevent legal responsibility and/or allegations from attacking foreign oil tankers, deliberately pretended not to know the origin of the attacks by calling them "Tire Qeib" or “unknown attacks source,” to escape any formal admission of attacks.

Although the strategy of "Tire Qeib" cost a lot to Iraqi supporters, yet there was an increase in the US military presence in the region, which led to a direct confrontation between Iran and the US in the final years of the war, and eventually resulted in a change in the equation of war for the benefit of Iraq.

In light of the unfavorable outcomes of this experience, no doubt, Iran will not seek to repeat that, at least under the same dangerous conditions that resemble those of the pre-war scene.

However, it is legitimate to ask who actually shot this invisible arrow from the bow?

One assumption could be the Iranian-backed forces’ Houthi rebels in Yemen who are involved in a direct and open war with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and who have carried out similar attacks in the past.

If that was the case, then the Emiratis have deliberately refused to accuse them, probably, in order to avoid acknowledging the authority of the invasive power of the Houthis.

Another assumption is that it is not possible to directly condemn Iran, as the Arab side searches for evidence to attribute an attack to Iran, through proxy forces, such as the Houthis.

The statement of the Americans about the need for Iran to be accountable for the attacks of its militia can confirm this proposition.

Another probable hypothesis is the possibility of third-party involvement in fishing in troubled waters.

Accordingly, some intelligence organizations such as the Mossad or groups such as ISIS can be considered, as these groups would clearly benefit from situations like an Iran-US conflict or the chaos in the region.

Another underlying message stemming from this attack is that the Strait of Hormuz holds an unparalleled place in energy transmission and alternative routes are not reliable and trusty.

In the end, it should be noted that the refusal by the US, the UAE and Saudi Arabia of accusing Iran, can mean that, in contrast to previous threats, they are not prepared to conduct a military response, at least in the short term. Or, that they have yet to come to the clear conclusion about the attacker, which is why we should wait for days and weeks to come.

About the Author:

Mehdi Dehnavi (ORCID ID: 0000-0002-7755-9414) is a geopolitical researcher, writer, and columnist whose articles have been published by several journals and news agencies like Sputnik International, The Diplomatist, Diplomacy & Beyond Plus, The Russian International Affairs Council, etc. His expertise is in Middle Eastern studies and security trends focused on Terrorism, Iranian Political Development, Kurdish Issue, Islamic Fundamentalism, US Politics, NPT, Disarmament and Arms Control.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this insight piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the IndraStra Global.