The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday. Under the plan, which has only been finalized in recent days, the United States would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition.
The United States is preparing to send additional troops to the Middle East in response to mounting concerns over Iran, which Washington blames for attacks on oil tankers last week, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. If confirmed, it would be in addition to the 1,500 troop increase announced last month in response to tanker attacks in May that it also blamed on Iran.
The United States has released a video that it claims shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from one of the two tankers hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman. Washington believes the images clearly show members of the Iranian elite force approaching the Japanese vessel and removing what the US claims is a limpet mine. Iran has vehemently denied involvement with the reported attacks and has described the US’s allegations as “baseless”.
Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck. Reports of the explosions originally came from the same Hezbollah-linked news agencies in Lebanon that correctly reported attacks on tankers docked off the coast of the UAE in May. The US blamed those attacks on Iran – an accusation Tehran has denied.
The United Arab Emirates told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor. The May 12 attacks targeted two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker, causing no casualties but fueling tensions between the United States and Iran during weeks of escalating rhetoric.
Two Saudi oil tankers were the targets of a “sabotage attack” off the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister says. The incident near Fujairah port, in the Gulf just outside the Strait of Hormuz, caused “significant damage” to the ships, according to Khalid al-Falih. The UAE said four ships were targeted, but that there were no casualties. Iran, which borders the strait, called the incident “worrisome and dreadful” and called for a full investigation. Tensions are high in the region, through which about a fifth of oil that is consumed globally passes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation that killed 24 Palestinians and four Israelis. Israeli warplanes and gunboats continued to target the Gaza Strip on Sunday as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel. Armed factions in Gaza, otherwise known as the Joint Operations Room, which include the military wing of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, vowed on Saturday to “extend its response” if the Israeli army continued to target the strip.
The White House has confirmed it is considering the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, after Donald Trump was personally lobbied by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The official designation of the Islamist movement as terrorist would have far-reaching effects, sanctioning companies and individuals who had any interactions with the group. The Muslim Brotherhood is a network of loosely affiliated groups across the Islamic world. In Egypt, the movement has gone underground since Sisi took power, but remains a source of determined opposition to his regime.
The worst surge of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2014 happened this week. It started with a botched Israeli raid into Gaza on Sunday which left seven Palestinians and one Israeli dead. Gaza militants fired over 460 rockets into Israel while Israel hit 160 military targets before Egypt brokered a ceasefire.
A local Hamas commander and several other Palestinians were killed in an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip. One Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded during the operation. A Hamas spokesman described the incident as a ‘cowardly Israeli attack.’ Palestinians said undercover Israeli forces infiltrated the area in a civilian vehicle.