by WorldTribune Staff, July 27, 2018
The head of Iran’s Quds force declared on July 26 that the Red Sea “is no longer secure” after Iran-backed Houthi rebels fired missiles at two Saudi oil tankers transiting the sea.
Saudi Arabia announced it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through a Red Sea shipping lane after the attack by the Yemen-based rebels.
Reuters quoted Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani as saying, “The Red Sea, which was secure, is no longer secure with the American presence.”
Soleimani added that U.S. President Donald Trump “should know that we are a nation of martyrdom and that we await him.”
The Quds Force chief also responded to Trump’s tweet earlier this week in which the U.S. president warned Iran that if it threatened America it would face “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered.”
“You know that this war will destroy all that you possess,” Soleimani responded in a speech in the central city of Hamedan. “You will start this war but we will be the ones to impose its end. Therefore you have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic.”
Soleimani also taunted America over what he called its military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying U.S. troops had to be supplied with “adult diapers.”
Soleimani also denounced Trump for using the language of “nightclubs and gambling halls.”
Earlier this month, Iran threatened to block another important oil route, the Strait of Hormuz, after Trump asked U.S. allies not to buy Iranian oil.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said each of the Saudi tankers was carrying about two million barrels of oil. He said one of the tankers sustained “minimal damage.”
He said any oil spill caused by the missile strikes could have caused “catastrophic environmental damage.”
“Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe,” he said.
The Bab al-Mandeb Strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden, is only 20 kilometers wide, making ships easy targets there.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products were transported through the waterway in 2016 to Europe, the United States, and Asia.