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World U.S. Labels Houthis Terrorists After Attacks on Oil Tankers

10:50  11 january  2021
10:50  11 january  2021 Source:   bloomberg.com

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Two oil tankers , the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, were attacked in the Gulf of Oman on In May, citing unspecified warnings of imminent Iranian attacks on American allies or interests, the Trump The Houthi faction in Yemen, which is backed by Iran, has launched attacks on Saudi oil

The attacks resembled one in May targeting four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. U . S . officials similarly accused Iran of targeting the Separately, Saudi Arabia said early Friday its military intercepted five drones launched by Yemen' s Houthi rebels targeting the kingdom, including

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. has classified Yemen’s Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization following a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Red Sea and as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Iran in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

a man standing on a bridge: An employee at the Saudi Aramco oil facility. © Photographer: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP An employee at the Saudi Aramco oil facility.

The move will give the U.S. “additional tools” with which to counter security threats in the Persian Gulf, according to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. The Houthis are backed by Iran in Yemen’s civil war and have been blamed for several missile strikes and other attacks on Saudi Arabia’s ports and oil infrastructure, some of which they’ve claimed responsibility for.

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The suspected attacks . Oil tanker Front Altair was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha, a petrochemical feedstock, when it was "suspected of Last month four oil tankers were damaged in the same area after apparently striking objects in the water. The UAE said the incident appeared to have been the

Two oil tankers near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz were damaged Thursday. After the U . S . Navy rushed to assist evacuating sailors, Secretary

“The designations are intended to hold Ansarallah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping,” Pompeo said in a statement, referring to the group by another name.

The Houthis have been fighting Yemen’s United Nations-recognized government since 2014. A Saudi Arabian-led coalition intervened a year later on the side of the government. The UN has called the conflict -- in which tens of thousands of people have died -- the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

A fuel tanker was hit by an explosion near the Saudi port of Jeddah last month. While the kingdom didn’t blame it on the Houthis, it described the incident as a “terrorist attack”. Three weeks before that, another vessel was damaged by what was possibly a mine at the Saudi terminal of Shuqaiq and the Houthis claimed a missile strike on a fuel depot in Jeddah owned by Saudi Aramco, the state energy company.

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Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Houthi insurgents in Yemen, who have been fighting a calamitous civil war against a Saudi-led military coalition. Iran is a chief ally of the Houthis . American officials directly blamed Iran over the weekend for the blows to the Saudi oil facilities.

An oil tanker after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman.Credit Iranian Students’ News Agency, via, Reuters. A passage just two miles wide. But the drone attack claimed by the Houthi rebels managed to briefly shut that route down. The other Gulf producers, including Iran, are more dependent on the

Read more: Blast at Saudi Port Hits Oil Tanker as Red Sea Attacks Mount

Yemen President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed the Houthis for an attack on Aden airport on Dec. 30, which the U.S. says killed 27 people.

The Houthis also said they were responsible for an attack on Saudi Arabia’s main oil pipeline in May 2019 and the world’s biggest crude-processing plant at Abqaiq a few months later.

The latter incident, in which armed drones temporarily knocked out about half of Saudi Arabia’s oil-production capacity, caused crude prices to soar. The UN said the drones were probably of Iranian origin.

The Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Iran in recent months as it tries to weaken the Islamic Republic economically and force it to stop meddling in other Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. The new penalties are also designed to make it harder for President-elect Joe Biden to improve relations with Iran, which he’s said he intends to do.

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"The terrorist attack will not affect economic activity or stall oil supplies," Falih said on his official Twitter account. Saudi oil industry sources said The Houthis , who control most of northern Yemen, have launched a flurry of missiles at Saudi Arabia, including the capital Riyadh, in the past few days.

The attacks took place against a backdrop of U . S .-Iranian tension following Washington' s decision this month to try to cut Iran' s oil exports to zero and to beef up its military presence in Tuesday' s attacks on the pumping stations more than 200 miles (320 km) west of Riyadh and Sunday' s on four tankers

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Iran seized a South Korea-flagged oil tanker last week amid a dispute with Seoul. Tehran says $7 billion from oil sales are trapped in South Korea due to Washington’s sanctions and it needs them to pay for goods including coronavirus vaccines.

South Korea’s deputy foreign minister is in Tehran this week to try to get the ship released and to discuss the funds.

The U.S. will designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization on Jan. 19, Pompeo said. Three of its leaders -- Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim -- will be designated as global terrorists.

Pompeo said U.S. humanitarian efforts to help victims of Yemen’s could be hindered, but that Washington will put in place measures to counteract this. He didn’t specify what those would be.

(Updates throughout.)

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©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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