Two attacks this week by Iranian-backed forces took aim at Saudi Arabia’s and the United Arab Emirates’s ability to send oil out of the Middle East. The first attack took place near the port of Fujairah, which is located at the outlet of an oil pipeline that the U.A.E. uses as a backup in case transiting the Strait of Hormuz becomes too dangerous for its tankers. The second attack hit two pumping stations along Saudi Arabia’s critical east-west pipeline, Saudi’s own backup plan to send oil to Europe if the Bab el-Mandeb is shut down by Iranian proxies.
Put simply, Iran was showing through these attacks that it has the ability to shut down oil exports to Europe, even if only temporarily.
The attacks also validate the United States’ concerns that Iranian proxies were planning to attack allies in the region. In order to deter more attacks, the U.S. has increased its military presence in the region. But will this troop surge to the Middle East contain or provoke Iran?