Iranian FM: US Turning Gulf into ‘Matchbox Ready to Ignite’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused the United States of transforming the Gulf into a tinderbox that could erupt in violence at any moment. “The region has become a matchbox ready to ignite because America and its allies are flooding it with weapons,” the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera news network quoted Zarif as saying. “The Gulf waterways are narrow,” he continued, “[so] it will become less safe as foreign [navy] vessels increase their presence there.” The comments come after the US announced it was in the process of recruiting nations for a maritime mission to secure freedom of navigation, especially through the Strait of Hormuz. Thus far, only Britain has formally joined, although Israel is reportedly providing the American military with intelligence. The US has accused the Shiite Islamic Republic of perpetrating attacks on six oil tankers in the Gulf, and of ordering its proxies to target American interests in Iraq as well as critical infrastructure in Sunni Saudi Arabia. President Donald Trump last year withdrew from the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal and subsequently imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran.