Singapore condemns Middle East attacks, calls for restraint

Singapore condemns Middle East attacks, calls for restraint

Iranian navy boat trying to control fire from Norwegian owned Front Altair tanker
A picture obtained by AFP from Iranian news agency Tasnim on Jun 13, 2019 reportedly shows an Iranian navy boat trying to control fire from Norwegian owned Front Altair tanker after it was in the waters of the Gulf of Oman. (Photo: Tasnim News/AFP)

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Friday (Jun 14) condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia's Abha airport and on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, saying it is "deeply concerned" about rising tensions in the Middle East.

On Wednesday, a missile strike by Yemen's Houthi forces on Saudi's Abha airport left 26 people wounded, including women and children.

A day later on Thursday, two oil tankers - one Norwegian and one Japanese-owned - were set ablaze in the Gulf of Oman in a suspected attack, escalating tensions across the region and sending global oil prices soaring.

"Singapore condemns the attack on the Abha International Airport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 12 June 2019, which has been claimed by Houthi militia in Yemen," MFA said in its statement.

“The attack resulted in a number of civilian casualties and endangered civil aviation.”

Singapore also condemned the attack on the two oil tankers in the Gulf. One of the ships, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, had been en route to Singapore with a cargo of methanol, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

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“We also condemn the attack on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June 2019,” said MFA. “It is imperative that sea lines of communication remain open, secure and free for navigation, in accordance with international law," added MFA.

The attack on the oil tankers comes a month after a similar incident in the vital sea lane. The United States has blamed Iran for the attacks, charges which Tehran has denied. 

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The current conflict in Yemen dates back to 2015 when a Saudi-led alliance intervened to try to restore the internationally recognised government that was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthis in late 2014.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran, although the Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

Meanwhile, tensions between Iran and the United States have risen since May last year, when US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers that aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran has repeatedly warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it cannot sell its oil because of US sanctions.

"Singapore is deeply concerned about rising tensions in the Middle East region," said MFA. "We urge all parties to exercise restraint in order to avoid further escalation."

Source: CNA/Agencies/ec(aj)

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