Qatar knew about Iranian plan to attack four vessels in Gulf of Oman
LONDON - Qatar knew about Iranian plan to attack four commercial ships off the UAE coast in May but has failed to warn its US, French and British allies, unveiled a western intelligence report.
The May 12 attacks targeted two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker in the Gulf of Oman, causing no casualties but fueling tensions between the United States and Iran during weeks of escalating rhetoric.
“Credible intelligence reports indicate that the IRGC-Quds Forces Naval unit is responsible for the Fujairah Port attacks, and the elements of civilian government of Iran, as well as the State of Qatar, were aware of the IRGC’s activities,” said the report which was obtained by Fox News.
Former US national security adviser John Bolton said on May 29 that the attacks were the work of "naval mines almost certainly from Iran."
Tensions between the US, its Gulf allies and Iran spiked in recent months after attacks on oil tankers and a September air strike on Saudi oil facilities, which the Washington blamed on Iran, but that Tehran has denied.
A few days earlier in May, at the Pentagon, US Rear Admiral Michael Gilday accused Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which has been classified by Washington as a foreign terrorist organisation, of being directly responsible for the attacks.
Lawmakers from two European NATO powers told Fox News that it would demand answers to the report from their respective governments.
Nathalie Goulet, a member of the French senate and a major figure in European counterterrorism, told Fox News that she was “very concerned” after seeing the intelligence report.
“I intend to raise questions with colleagues in other countries with strong connections in the Middle East such as Britain and with our government,” said Goulet.
“I will send the report to the head of the security department and also the minister of defense,” she added.
British MP Ian Paisley Jr told Fox News the intelligence report “requires serious and immediate investigation by my own government”.
“If proven correct, this poses serious questions for our alliances in this region,” he said.
The latest allegations against Qatar exposed the gas-rich Gulf emirate’s agenda of covering up terrorist attacks which is in contrast with its cooperation with the US on fighting terrorism.
Qatar forged an alliance with Iran after Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE well as Egypt cut relations with Doha in June 2017, accusing it of bankrolling Islamist extremist groups and of being too close to regional rival Iran. Qatar denied the accusations.
If proven true, the allegations against Doha will likely damage US-Qatari ties, especially after repeated claims in West that Doha was financing extremist groups and organisations worldwide.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly signed a US cable in 2009 stating that Qatar’s cooperation in countering terrorism was the worst in the region.