WASHINGTON – As summer approaches in the Persian Gulf, geopolitical tensions are rising as fast as the temperature. Saudi Arabia says it has suffered drone attacks on land-based oil pumping stations, and that two of its oil tankers were sabotaged. Two other tankers, including one flagged to NATO ally Norway, were also reportedly damaged by small explosive devices. The seaborne incidents all occurred off the coast of the United Arab Emirates at a maritime oil-bunkering station. Each attack ripped a 5- to 10-foot hole in the hull of the tanker near or at the waterline, suggesting the saboteurs attached mines to ships’ sides.
In response, the U.S. military is exploring options to deter Iran, which is thought to be behind the tanker attacks. This has included increasing the level of operational readiness of U.S. troops throughout the region; deploying long-range B-52 bombers and F-15 fighters to the U.S. base in Al Udeid, Qatar; sending a carrier strike group, led by the nuclear-powered Abraham Lincoln, into the waters of the Persian Gulf; exploring options to deploy up to 120,000 new troops to the region; and issuing strong statements from the White House promising significant military retaliation if Iran provokes an incident.
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