UAE and Arab countries ‘working to ensure freedom of navigation’ in region’s waters
DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said Wednesday the UAE is working with Arab countries to guarantee the freedom of navigation for ships in the region.
He was speaking after the UAE said earlier that the participation of several countries in an investigation into last week’s attack on oil tankers off its coast would support the “impartiality and transparency” of the findings.
Abu Dhabi has not yet blamed anyone for the acts of sabotage on four vessels including two Saudi oil tankers, but a senior UAE official has said Abu Dhabi was concerned about Iranian behavior in the region.
Speaking as he met Jordan’s King Abdullah in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE was closely co-ordinating with Jordan on the current regional developments to “ensure security and stability in the region,” state news agency WAM reported.
King Abdullah said the security of the UAE and Gulf region is an integral part of Jordan’s security. The two countries will also conduct joint military exercises in the foreseeable future.
The investigation is continuing into the attacks on the tankers off the coast of the UAE emirate Fujairah. The US and France, which has a naval base in Abu Dhabi, are participating in the probe as well as Saudi Arabia and Norway.
The UAE said earlier on Wednesday that the participation of several countries in the investigation would support the "impartiality and transparency" of the findings.
“The keenness of our international partners to participate in the investigation and the concerted efforts support the impartiality and transparency in arriving at results,” the UAE foreign ministry said.
US government sources told Reuters they believe Iran encouraged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia or Iraq-based militias to carry out the operation.
Tehran has distanced itself from the attack, which comes as Iran and the United States spar over sanctions and the US military presence in the Gulf region.
The UAE foreign ministry welcomed the participation of several “friendly and brotherly” countries in the investigation, but did not name them. It did not give a timeframe, saying the probe would take “the time required.”
A Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE fuel bunker barge were among the vessels hit in an area that serves as one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs located just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has said Abu Dhabi would show restraint after the attack and that it was committed to de-escalation during what he described as a “difficult situation” caused by Iranian behavior in the region.
Saudi Arabia has called for emergency Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30 to discuss the implications of the tanker attack and an armed drone strike two days later on Saudi oil installations in the Kingdom, for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility.