A series of unfortunate events linked to the Saudi invasion in Yemen continues to pursue the Kingdom.
On December 14, an explosion hit the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine, a chemical tanker hauling gasoline, off the Saudi port city of Jeddah, which is also known as the distribution center for oil giant SaudiAramco. The BW Group said that the explosion erupted after the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine was hit by “an external source”, but all 22 sailors on board received no injures.
Later, Saudi media claimed that the explosion was caused by an attack with a water-born improvised explosive device. At the time of the attack, the ship was carrying more than 60,000 metric tons of gasoline from the Aramco refinery at Yanbu.
This is not the first attack in the Red Sea waters attributed to the Houthis. About three weeks ago, on November 25, a Greek-managed oil tanker was damaged in a WBIED attack on the Saudi petroleum terminal located near Jeddah. A few days earlier, on November 23, the Houthis struck the Jeddah distribution station with a Quds-2 cruise missile.
The developments in the Red Sea, one of the key areas of global maritime transportation of energy resources, come amid the increase in tensions between Iran and the US-Israeli bloc.
On November 27, the top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in an apparent US-Israeli plot outside of Tehran. This move contributed to the growth of tensions and Iran, expecting even more attacks before President Trump leaves office, even reinforced its defenses on the coast of the Persian Gulf. The Iranian leadership also promised to avenge the assassination.
The increase of attacks on US-Israeli interests and their allies in the region is likely a part of this asymmetric response.
On December 14, Israeli media also reported a large-scale cyberattack on 40 Israeli firms working in the financial, technology and logistics sectors.
On December 13, a “sophisticated hacking group backed by a foreign government” allegedly committed a cyber attack and stole information from the U.S. Treasury Department and a U.S. agency responsible for deciding policy reguarding the internet and telecommunications, according to reports in mainstream media.
US “anonymous sources” expectedly accused the Russians, but there are more candidates.
In the coming weeks tensions will likely continue to grow in the Greater Middle East, as the United States and Israel are working to secure their recent diplomatic breakthroughs, and are taking active steps to entrench the legacy of the 4 years of the Trump presidency.