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Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Sunday that the United States and United Kingdom, respectively, now believe Iran was likely responsible for last week's drone strike on an oil tanker in the Arabian sea.

Why it matters: The United States and Britain now join Israel in accusing Tehran of being behind the July 29 attack off the coast of Oman. Iran has denied involvement.

Driving the news: The merchant tanker, “Mercer Street,” was hit twice. The first attack didn’t cause any damages but the second strike hit the rooms of the crew.

  • Two people were killed, one Romanian national and one British national.
  • "Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region," Blinken said on Sunday.

Between the lines: The ship was owned by a Japanese company but was managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime. Israeli officials have alleged this was the reason the tanker became a target.

  • Israel and Iran have traded attacks at sea over the last 18 months. Israel attacked numerous Iranian vessels, which were transferring oil and allegedly weapons to Syria. In recent months, Iran has begun to retaliate by allegedly attacking ships owned by Israeli businessmen.

What they are saying: On Sunday morning, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry denied Iran had any connection to the attack.

  • "There is no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior," Blinken said. "These actions threaten freedom of navigation through this crucial waterway, international shipping and commerce, and the lives of those on the vessels involved."
  • Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that he "unequivocally" believes "Iran was the one that attacked the ship,” per Bloomberg.
  • Raab's statement said the UK believes the attack was “deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran.”
  • “Iran must end such attacks, and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” Raab said.

What’s next: Israeli and British diplomats told Axios that the next step will be to attempt to convene a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

  • "We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming," Blinken said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information.

Go deeper

Oct 13, 2021 - World

Biden administration leans into Abraham Accords

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with Vice President Kamala Harris (L). Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty

The trilateral meeting on Wednesday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Israel and the United Arab Emirates epitomized the Biden administration's belated embrace of the Abraham Accords.

Why it matters: The normalization deals struck between Israel and four Arab countries were Donald Trump's landmark foreign policy achievement, and while the Biden administration has long said it wants to push them forward, it has only recently started taking steps in that direction.

Oct 13, 2021 - World

Iraq elections boost nationalist al-Sadr at expense of pro-Iran bloc

Al-Sadr supporters celebrate in Baghdad. Photo: Ayman Yaqoob/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Abu Dhabi — Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged from Sunday's parliamentary elections as the leading figure in Iraqi politics.

Why it matters: Al-Sadr has positioned himself as a bulwark against foreign interference in Iraq. He has a history of violent opposition to U.S. forces in the country but has more recently proved adept at presenting himself to regional and international partners as a more palatable alternative to pro-Iranian rivals.

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against American workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.