Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

UN must protect global energy supply after Fujairah report, says Anwar Gargash

Limpet mines planted in sophisticated operation involving reconnaissance and highly-trained divers

The clear picture of what happened when four oil tankers were attacked in the bunkering area of Fujairah in May sets down a challenge to the United Nations to defend global energy supply lines from any outbreak of regional tensions, according to Anwar Gargash.

Dr Gargash, the UAE minister of state for Foreign Affairs told the Globsec security summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, an investigation by the UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia had concluded that a “state actor” was most likely behind the incident.

By presenting the ambassadors on the United Nations Security Council with a technically detailed, internationally-backed report, Mr Gargash hoped that the information could not be undermined by political finger pointing.

“The Council is seized as they say now of the matter,” he told The National on the sidelines. “The council understands the sort of dangers that might actually befall energy supplies, maritime trade in the region and there is this powerful message that you can’t argue with.

“The powerful message is about facts, not really political innuendo.”

The three country report did not name any country as the culprit although leading US officials, included National Security Adviser John Bolton, has accused Tehran of orchestrating the attack.

Refusing to be drawn into the exchanges, Dr Gargash said the established facts in the report spoke for themselves.

“This is a sophisticated operation, there was reconnaissance targeting ships over a large distance, the explosions took place over a short period of time and the targeting was quite precise to disable these ships,” he said.

“These were limpet mines that were attached to the ships by highly trained divers,” he said.

“These are behaviours, who ever is responsible, that touch maritime trade and that garner credibility within the UN framework. That in itself is a more powerful message than political accusations.”

In a 15 minute address to the conference, Dr Gargash contrasted the stance of an Iran that pointed missiles at its neighbours and the UAE’s plans to next launch a probe to Mars.

Iran was controlled by a hardline faction of commanders that had embraced intransigence. The message from the UAE was very different. “Arab countries can be just as progressive, just as global in their outlook, and just as ambitious for the welfare of their people, as any other,” he said.

Thirty years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dr Gargash reached out to the largely central and eastern European audience with lessons from recent Arab experience of revolutions.

“There is a great difference between the revolutions that took place here – where a prior democratic tradition existed, and violent religious extremism did not, where a security umbrella was provided by NATO, and economic prosperity was promised by the European Union – and the Middle East,” he said as he called for wider engagement with the area.

The transitions underway in Algeria and Sudan represented a balancing act between smoothing the path for the popular will and ensuring the states did not slip into the chaos suffered elsewhere during the Arab Spring.

After the deaths of more than 100 people in violence in Khartoum, Dr Gargash condemned the massacre and said the shift of power set in train by the removal of Omar Al Bashir, who had ruled for three decades, must not be derailed.

“We are concerned about the massacre we’ve seen. We are supportive calls for proper investigation,” Dr Gargash said. “We think it has complicated issues. We recognise that after 30 years of Bashir’s rule you won’t have a unified opposition, the only way forward is really a dialogue.

“The only way forward is to keep sight of these two goals: how can you take account of popular demands without wrecking Sudanese institutions.”

Updated: June 8, 2019 09:42 AM

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