The New Tanker War
Mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz this week show how one of the world's crucial chokepoints for global energy supplies can be easily targeted, 30 years after the U.S. Navy and Iran were entangled in a similarly shadowy conflict called the "Tanker War."
While the current tensions are nowhere near the damage done then, it underscores how dangerous the situation is and how explosive it can become.
The so-called "Tanker War" involved American naval ships escorting reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf and the strait after Iranian mines damaged vessels in the region. It culminated in a one-day naval battle between Washington and Tehran, and also saw America accidentally shoot down an Iranian passenger jet, killing 290 people.
"We need to remember that some 30% of the world's crude oil passes through the straits," said Paolo d'Amico, the chairman of the oil tanker association INTERTANKO. "If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk."