10:12 GMT17 January 2021
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    The tensions in the region escalated this week after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined a US-led Maritime Coalition that aims to patrol the waters near Iran's borders. Their decision comes after a drone attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities by Yemen's Houthi militants that Riyadh hastily blamed on the Islamic Republic.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticised Washington, pointing out that Tehran has pursued diplomatic means to ease tensions in the Middle East, while the US has preferred to use military force.

    ​The US decided to establish an international maritime coalition earlier this year after a number of incidents near the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial oil transport waterway, including an attack against several ships in the Gulf of Oman in June, and a UK-Iran row that led to the seizure of the British-flagged vessel Stena Impero by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Washington intended to form a "coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution".

    © AP Photo
    A British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized by the Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Friday is photographed in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Saturday, July 20, 2019.

    At present, the UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain have joined Washington's initiative, while Iraq and numerous European countries have rejected it.


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