Flooding Persian Gulf with weapons turns it into ‘matchbox ready to ignite’ – Zarif

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The US and their allies are damaging security in the Persian Gulf by “flooding” the region with arms, and sending a US-led naval force there will make the situation worse, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

US foreign policy undermines the security of the countries around the Persian Gulf, Zarif said on Monday during a trip to Qatar.

The region has become a matchbox ready to ignite because America and its allies are flooding it with weapons.

Iranian officials have been accusing Washington and its key overseas partners like Saudi Arabia of destabilizing the situation in the Middle East by training and arming various anti-government militant groups in Syria.

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The US blames Iran for attacks on foreign oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, which Tehran denies. The tension between the states rose further last month after Iranian forces seized British tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran claims the ship violated maritime rules. This prompted Washington to lobby for deploying a multinational naval squadron to protect the shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to open ocean, against “Iranian aggression.”

Zarif argued that the presence of the US-led task force will only exacerbate the situation. The narrow Gulf waterway “will become less safe as foreign [navy] vessels increase their presence in it,” he said.

The diplomat stressed that the security in the region must be maintained by littoral countries, not outside powers.

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