Tensions Mount After Oil Tankers are Sabotaged in Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump disembarks Marine One.

President Donald Trump disembarks Marine One on the PCU Gerald R. Ford, Newport News, Virginia, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

After news about two Saudi Arabia oil tankers being sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, President Trump threatened Iran with a “bad problem” if anything happened. This comes shortly after tense times between the U.S. and Iran, as of recently Trump has been warning ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting traffic in the area. Iran has since denied being behind the sabotage of the oil tankers.

Not Happy

On Monday, after oil tankers near the Persian Gulf were sabotaged, Trump threatened Iran if anything happened. “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that,” the president told reporters. “They’re not going to be happy.” [1]

What he means, exactly, by a “bad problem” is unspecified, but Trump said that “you can figure it out yourself. They know what I mean by it.”

Although Trump administration officials have not officially stated whether or not they believe that Iran is behind the sabotage, they are helping the United Arab Emirates with the investigation process.

Increased Tensions

This incident comes shortly after the U.S. Maritime Administration released a warning on Thursday. “Since early May, there is an increased possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take action against U.S. and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure, after recently threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz,” the warning read. “Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait or the Persian Gulf.” [2]

After Trump deployed an aircraft strike group, B-52 bombers, and other military persons to the Persian Gulf last week, Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, told reporters that unspecified Iranian threats caused Trump to risk “serious miscalculation.

Baeidinejad has denied Iran or its “proxies” being behind the sabotage of the oil tankers. “We are prepared for any eventuality, this I can tell you,” [3] Baeidinejad said when the topic of growing tensions between the two countries was brought up.

Some believe that this is only a matter of people trying to start a fight. “This is politics, and this is about Bolton and others who have had a bee in their bonnet about Iran for as long as they have been in politics,” said Robert Muggah, a specialist in international security and co-founder of The SecDev Group, an Ottawa, Canada-headquartered consultancy that analyses open-source intelligence.

Others, however, think that high tensions were inevitable after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal between Iran and other world powers. Currently, the two countries have no formal diplomatic means of communications- which only heightens the fear that war could be started by accident.


  1. ^Fritze, John and Deirdre Shesgreen. “‘They’re not going to be happy.’ Trump threatens Iran over reports of sabotaged oil tankers.” USA TODAY, 13 May. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/13/donald-trump-threatens-iran-after-oil-tankers-sabotaged-persian-gulf/1191755001. (go back  ↩)
  2. ^Gambrell, Jon. “Saudi Arabia says 2 oil tankers damaged by sabotage attacks.” USA TODAY, 13 May. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/05/13/sabotage-attacks-hit-two-oil-tankers-saudi-arabia-says/1186447001. (go back  ↩)
  3. ^Hjelmgaard, Kim. “Iran says Trump playing ‘very dangerous game’ and risking ‘devastating war’.” USA TODAY, 14 May. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/05/14/iran-trump-bolton-dragging-tehran-devastating-and-unnecessary-war/3664144002. (go back  ↩)

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