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Saudi Arabia announces emergency summit over tanker attacks

Saudi Arabia announced an emergency summit of Gulf and Arab leaders scheduled for May 30 to discuss recent attacks against oil installations in the kingdom and commercial ships off the coast of the UAE.

The kingdom’s foreign ministry tweeted the announcement in the early hours of Sunday.

Also on Sunday, the Saudi Media Ministry tweeted that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had discussed regional developments and the need to strengthen security in a telephone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Adel Al Jubeir, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, spoke a week after four oil tankers— two of them Saudi— were targeted in an act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and days after Iran-allied Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that… but at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests,” Al Jubeir told reporters.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps is “highly likely” to have orchestrated attacks last Sunday on four tankers including two Saudi ships off Fujairah in the UAE, according to a Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway are investigating the attacks, which also hit a UAE and a Norwegian-flagged vessel.

A confidential assessment issued this week by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association concluded that the attack was likely to have been carried out by a surface vessel operating close by that dispatched underwater drones carrying 30 kilograms to 50kg of high-grade explosives to detonate on impact.

The attacks took place against a backdrop of US-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and increase its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.

Iran’s foreign minister dismissed the possibility of war erupting in the region.

“There will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iran’s Irna state news agency before ending a visit to Beijing.

“The fact is that Trump has officially said and reiterated again that he does not want a war, but people around him are pushing for war on the pretext that they want to make America stronger against Iran.”

But Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guard, said Tehran would defeat the US in an intelligence war, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

“We are able to defeat the enemy in intelligence war. Breaking the enemy’s will to use power means disarming the enemy,” he said.

He said an intelligence war includes psychological and cyber operations, military moves and public diplomacy and that despite its “ostentatious appearance”, the US was suffering from “osteoporosis”.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held talks on Saturday with Saudi Ambassador Osama Al Nugali and voiced his support for Gulf nations amid the regional developments. Mr El Sisi said Egypt would stand against those looking to create instability.

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, met with Mr El Sisi last week.

The discussions between Sheikh Mohammed and Mr El Sisi “touched upon the latest crisis that Arab countries are experiencing” where they supported efforts to find “political solutions” for them, a presidency statement said.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Tehran would not be bullied into negotiating, according to Irna.

“The [US] claim that it is forcing us to the negotiating table is worthless … We are for logic, negotiation and dialogue … but we will never surrender to anyone who intends to bully us,” Mr Rouhani was quoted as saying.

Battered by US sanctions and an ailing economy, Iran’s rial currency traded at 32,000 to $1 at the time of the 2015 nuclear deal. Now it is at 148,000, and many have seen their life’s savings wiped out.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate is 12 percent. For youth it’s even worse, with a quarter of all young people unemployed, according to Iran’s statistic center.

Other countries in the region have issued warnings to their citizens with the US Embassy in Iraq ordering all “non-essential” citizens to leave the country immediately..

Source The National

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