The last time a ‘Tanker War’ broke out in the Persian Gulf, it lasted for years

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tags: Iran, Trump, Persian Gulf, Tanker War, tank

After two suspected attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, one question was looming over discussions in Washington and other Western capitals Friday morning: If Iran was indeed behind the attacks, as the United States has claimed, how much more is it willing to risk?

Few expect that either Iran or the Trump administration would willingly provoke a full-blown conflict, but the chances of an accidental escalation have inched up since tankers were sabotaged near the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah last month.

As tensions mounted between the United States and Iran, European nations pressed for a calm response, fearing that any escalation could disrupt trade through the region’s vital Strait of Hormuz, which carries up to a third of global crude oil exports traded via ships. If the strait is blocked or trade there is disrupted by conflict, analysts predict oil prices would surge.

This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario.

In fact, the United States has witnessed a “Tanker War” in the same region before: The bloody Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988 also played out in the Persian Gulf, and hundreds of ships owned by or associated with the two sides were targeted in the conflict. Other ships were attacked, too.

“The U.S. is no longer as dependent on the flow of oil from the Gulf as back then, but all of our allies are. So, for the functioning of the global economy, it’s still a vital waterway,” said Nicholas Burns, a Harvard University professor and former undersecretary of state under President George W. Bush.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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