A leaked US intelligence report is making its rounds suggesting that Qatar knew ahead of time that Iran would attack four tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May, yet failed to notify its at-risk allies, Fox News recently reported.
The May attacks targeted two Saudi Arabian oil tankers, both near the critical oil chokepoint of the Strait of Hormuz, and both of which sustained “significant” damage according to an official Saudi statement at the time. Iran denied the attacks.
The other two vessels were a Norwegian tanker and a UAE bunkering ship.
The intelligence report, which has not been made public, has apparently made its way to at least one French Senator who said she was “very concerned” and a British lawmaker who said the contents of the report were “very alarming”. Both were sending the report up their respective chains for a closer look.
No one from inside the US intelligence community has officially acknowledged the report or its contents.
If Qatar did, in fact, know that Iran would attack the vessels and declined to warn its allies, there may be geopolitical repercussions for the tiny Middle Eastern country that finds itself sandwiched precariously between Saudi Arabia and the UAE — both of which have participated in a long-running blockade of Qatar.
Qatar has, in recent years, purchased a significant number of arms from France, and the United States’ Central Command station in Qatar and its 10,000-strong military presence in Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base is a nice security feature that Qatar boasts — for now.
But things can turn on a dime.
Qatar has denied any prior knowledge of the attacks.