UN calls on Middle East Gulf actors to exercise ‘maximum restraint’

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The United Nations has called on all actors in the Middle East Gulf region to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amid heightened tensions.

The world body has sounded the alarm after reports that the United States was sending a patriot-missile-defence system and aircraft carrier to the region amidst escalating tensions with Iran.

The New York Times earlier reported that the White House was presented with a military plan that envisions sending as many as 120 000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.

The Times reports that the military revisions prepared for the White House were ordered by the hardline National Security Advisor John Bolton. This amidst as yet unconfirmed reports that four oil tankers, two Saudi owned, another Norwegian and a fourth belonging to the United Arab Emirates were attacked near the mouth of the Persian Gulf with US officials laying the blame at Iran’s door.

“The Secretary General is following with growing concern recent incidents and hardening rhetoric in the Gulf region which threatens to further destabilize an already volatile situation. In particular he condemns the recent attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE and stresses the need for further investigations to determine the facts and hold accountable the perpetrators. He also condemns the drone attack on oil facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for which the Houthi have claimed responsibility. The SG recalls that attacks targeting civilian infrastructure violate international humanitarian law,” says UN Secretary General’s Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.

In the absence of any evidence, Iran has denied the US accusations of its involvement in the tanker attacks as a ploy by Washington to continue to ramp up pressure on Tehran.

“There won’t be any war, with the help of God. We don’t seek a war, and they don’t either. They know it’s not in their interests,” says Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah al Khamenei.

Washington’s State Department this week ordered a partial evacuation of its Embassy in Baghdad, over what it claims are threats linked to Iran, a close ally of Iraq. But the US President Donald Trump earlier denied the Times report of plans for 120 000 troops being prepared for a possible scenario in the region.

“I think it’s fake news, OK? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that. But I think…where was that story in The New York Times? Well, the New York Times is fake news.”

Other US lawmakers like Democratic Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer also weighed in. “A hundred twenty thousand American troops in the Middle East. This report is completely baffling and incredibly alarming. What is the strategy here?. The administration just began to maximum pressure campaign of sanctions against Iran to squeeze its economy. Doesn’t it make sense to see if your policy is working before preparing for potential troop deployments particularly in such large numbers?”

US Secretary of State said in Russia Wednesday that they do not seek war with Iran. But after his meeting with Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, Mike Pompeo said they’ve made it clear to Iran that if American interests are attacked in the Middle East, that they will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.

This of course comes amidst rising tensions between the two countries over tough US unilateral sanctions and Washington’s withdrawal from the multilateral deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear development.