The White House is weighing military options to counter Iranian threats to shut down oil shipping in the Middle East’s waterways.
CNN quoted two US administration officials as saying that the “Trump administration is looking at what military options may be needed to keep vital waterways in the Middle East open in the wake of attacks on Saudi oil tankers by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on July 25.”
A Wednesday attack on two Saudi tankers -- each with the capacity to carry 2 million barrels -- in the Red Sea near the war-torn port of Hodeidah was the more immediate concern for the US.
The report says that Gen. Joseph Votel -- head of US Central Command, overseas US military operations in the Middle East -- has been traveling in the region this week meeting with counterparts and held a conference of regional commanders to discuss security concerns.
Also, US defense minister James Mattis reiterated that the Pentagon would continue to work with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE to counter Iranian influence in the region.
He added that in case Iranians do move to shut down oil shipping directly, it would prompt an international respone. "It would have obviously an international response to reopen the shipping lanes with whatever that took because the world’s economy depends on that energy, those energy supplies flowing out of there," Mattis said.
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