Saudi Arabia: Oil tanker hit by ‘external sources’

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An oil tanker located off the Saudi port of Jeddah was hit by an external source and exploded. All 22 sailors aboard the Singapore-flagged tanker BW Rhine were left unscathed in the crash yesterday.The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, part of the British royal navy, urged vessels in the area to practice caution, adding that investigations are ongoing. The company warned some of the oil on board could have spilled into the sea due to the explosion. The Saudi authorities have not yet confirmed the incident, which comes after other targeted attacks against Saudi Arabia.

Dryad Global, a naval intelligence company, also reported the blast without offering a justification.The US navy’s 5th fleet, patrolling the seas in the Middle East, did not immediately reply to a request for comment, writes today The Guardian.The British newspaper affirms that the explosion comes after a mine detonated and damaged a ship off Saudi Arabia last month. Another blast hit a cargo ship off the small port city of Nishtun in far eastern Yemen at the beginning of December.Previously, a missile hit an Aramco company infrastructure. All attacks highlight the vulnerability of the nerve center oil structures of Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading crude oil exporter.

Dryad Global added that if the Houthis were behind Sunday’s blast, it would represent a fundamental shift in both targeting capabilities and intent.The Red Sea is a vital transportation lane for both cargo and global energy equipment. If the port is laid with mines, it will pose a risk not only to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also to the rest of the world. The semines can enter the water and then be moved away by the water currents that change by the season in the Red Sea. The Guardian recall that the Red Sea has been mined before. In 1984, some 19 vessels recorded striking mines in with only one ever being recovered and disarmed, according to a U.N. panel of experts investigating Yemen’s war.

Yemeni Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have used sea mines before in their long war against a Saudi-led coalition. However, the Houthis did not claim responsibility for the previous attacks.Riyadh has been conducting an aerial bombing campaign on Yemen since 2015 in support of the government. And for this reason, it is being targeted by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The war in Yemen has caused tens of thousands of deaths, mostly civilians, and according to the United Nations, it is the worst ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the world.

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