Copy of REG_190308 GARGASH [1]-1558086408448
"Definitely I think this whole situation is difficult. We are where we are largely because of Iran behaviour," says UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: In an recent interview with CNN, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, has said that the region is currently passing through a “sensitive and difficult” period, and Iran was to blame.

His comments come as US aircraft carrier and bomber squads have been sent to the Gulf amid fiery Iranian threats of closing the Strait of Hormuz—a vital passageway for 30 per cent of the world’s oil shipments.

“Definitely I think this whole situation is difficult. We are where we are largely because of Iran behaviour. This is a behaviour that is not new to the region. This is a behaviour that has been basically compiling and clearly right now that – American sanctions on Iran are biting,” he said.

The US has been piling on massive economic pressure on Iran in a bid to curb its ‘destabilising’ behaviour in the region, including supporting proxy militias and fomenting sectarianism.

“I think the onus is on Iran. The onus is on Iran. Iran is the government that is responsible for where we are today. Iranian behaviour over the last decade or two has led us to where we are today. There’s very little trust in the region. I don’t think the onus right now is mainly on Washington. I think it’s on Iran,” Gargash said.

Earlier this week, oil tankers positioned off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, were targeted by unknown attackers.

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The attack was widely condemned by several Arab states and the UAE ordered an investigation into who was responsible for the attack.

“We are currently investigating, we have- we are collaborating with France, and the United States, and other friends are also offering their help. So, in a few days we should know what took place, what transpired. Clearly this is a very, very serious incident because it affects maritime commerce, and it comes also at a very very, what I would call a very sensitive and difficult period in the region. So clearly, we all have an interest at this time in deescalating and dealing with things in a mature, rational way,” Gargash said.

Asked what role the West could play in the situation, Gargash stressed the importance of a united approach.

“It concerns us when we see that the west is speaking with different approaches. I think all these countries that you have mentioned agree that there is a problem with Iran’s behaviour. I think the disagreement is over the approach. I think there is agreement across the board that Iran has been a disruptive force.

On the subject of Yemen, where the UAE is part of a Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Iran-backed Al Houthis, Gargash was cautiously optimistic.

“Four years ago, it was the Al Houthi coup against the government of Yemen that lead to the Arab intervention in Yemen which we are part of. I think right now, we have a very hopeful sign in Yemen, imperfect, I have to admit, difficult, I have to admit. But again, we have a sign with the Stockholm Agreement, we have, for example, now the pull-out on Hodeida. But here the onus is on the UN to ensure that this pull-out is genuine, that there will be no snap-back by Al Houthis. I think it is in our common interest to move from a military phase of the confrontation, to a political phase. Now, it doesn’t help when the Houthis will, right after agreeing to deal with the UN after four months of procrastinating to try and target civilian installations inside the region. So clearly, there is very little trust in what Al Houthis have done. How can you, on one day attempt peace your way, and only four days later augment options of war?,” he said.