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What will constitute yet another act of war in the Middle East? On May 12, four oil tankers in the Gulf — two of them Saudi Arabian, one from the United Arab Emirates, and the other Norwegian — were attacked with explosives as they lay at anchor near the Strait of Hormuz. Then, on June 13, in the Gulf of Oman, just beyond the strait, two more tankers (one Japanese and the other Norwegian) were hit by mines. The U.S. government regards Iran as the obvious culprit, whereas Iran claims it is a victim of what U.S. President Donald Trump might call “fake news.”

Regardless of who is to blame, the risk of a dangerous escalation is obvious. Following Iran’s subsequent downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, the mutual recrimination has intensified and the risk of all-out war has grown.

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