Should we see a link to last Thursday’s attack on an oil tanker off Oman? This Tuesday, the UKMTO Maritime Safety Agency warned of a “potential hijacking” of a ship sailing off the United Arab Emirates, some 60 nautical miles from the city of Fujairah. The UKMTO, which is dependent on the British Navy, has advised ships transiting the area to exercise “extreme caution”.
According to analysts at the maritime security company Dryad Global, the troubled ship sails under the Panamanian flag and bears the name “Asphalt Princess”. And according to MarineTraffic, the ship carried asphalt and bitumen and headed for Sohar, a port in the north of the Sultanate of Oman, a neighboring country of the Emirates separated from Iran by the Strait of Hormuz.
The event thus comes five days after the attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman that killed two people and the day after the ship’s arrival at the offshore anchorage of Fujairah, one of seven emirates in the Federation of Emirates . a neighboring Gulf country of Oman.
The Iranian authorities, accused by the international community, have denied any involvement in this attack. According to the shipping company Zodiac Maritime, the unclaimed offensive cost the lives of a British man who was employed by the security company Ambrey and a Romanian crew member.
Iran has already been accused of several attacks on ships
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged a “collective response” against Iran, which has been accused of “continuing to act terribly irresponsibly”. Iran warned him on Monday that it would retaliate for any “adventurism” after threats of reprisals from Israel and the United States.
This Tuesday evening and after the information from London about the “possible hijacking” of the “Asphalt Princess”, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed that “the publication of information on successive incidents related to boats in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea is complete Suspect.” “.
In a statement on Twitter, Said Khatibzadeh warned against “creating a distorted situation for political reasons” and reiterated “Iran’s readiness to provide any assistance in case of any maritime accidents” in the region.
“The initial information is very concerning,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of the incident, without commenting on its nature. “We are monitoring developments and are in close contact with London and other partners,” she added. “We have observed very worrying Iranian belligerent behavior, including in the maritime sphere. (…) However, it is too early to make a statement regarding this incident,” said Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department.
The Gulf has seen several ship attacks in recent years attributed to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is regularly accused of threatening freedom of navigation. The Gulf countries, the Emirates and Iran maintain diplomatic ties but have traditionally found themselves on opposite sides on regional issues, including ties with Israel, with whom the Emirates normalized relations in 2020.