Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 February 2020

Emirati minister tells of clear Iran 'escalation' but does not foresee war

'If supply through the Strait of Hormuz is cut, every country in the world will be impacted and the world economy cannot sustain $100 oil prices', Minister of Energy and Industry Suhail Al Mazrouei says

Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Industry, says he does not expect a war to break out after Iran struck back at US targets in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Iran fired 22 missiles at two bases in Iraq where US forces are stationed, according to the Iraqi military.

“I don't think the US wants to be aggressive in the Middle East,” Al Mazrouei said at a conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“This is definitely an escalation between the US, an ally, and Iran, a neighbour, whether we like them or not, they are our neighbour … the last thing we want is an escalation.”

UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
UAE energy minister Suhail Al Mazrouei. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Mr Al Mazrouei said the US was keen on peace in the Middle East and that “they've been here, they help in fighting terrorism, so their role in the Middle East has been positive to ensure we don't have extremism in the fight against ISIS and others".

On concerns that tension and military action between the US and Iran could impact global energy supplies, Mr Al Mazrouei said that even during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War there was a steady flow of oil.

“We maintained [our role] as a reliable supplier,” he said.

On Iranian threats it would close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping channel through the Arabian Gulf, Mr Al Mazrouei said the strait was not only important for the UAE but for the world “and Iran understands that, I don't think we'll be in such a situation".

"If supply through the Strait of Hormuz is cut, every country in the world will be impacted and the world economy cannot sustain $100 [Dh367] oil prices and a huge spike," he said.

Speaking at the same forum at NYU Abu Dhabi, Opec Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said: "Nobody wants war here and there’s almost a consensus in this region. I’ve been speaking to a number of people from different countries and they’re totally averse to war.

"This region has had its fair share of turmoil and war and what is badly required now is peace, stability that will lead to continuous prosperity of people of this region that the world relies on supply of energy not only now but also in the future."

Updated: January 8, 2020 11:10 AM

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