Crisis in the Arabian Gulf | Page 2 | World Defense

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
U.S. warns merchant ships of possible Iranian attacks; cleric threatens U.S. fleet
May 10, 2019 / 12:31 PM / Updated 22 minutes ago

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran could target U.S. commercial ships including oil tankers, the U.S. Maritime Administration said on Friday, as a senior Iranian cleric said a U.S. Navy fleet could be “destroyed with one missile.”

In the latest tense exchange between Tehran and Washington, Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards separately said Iran would not negotiate with the United States, a stance that seemed partly aimed at discouraging Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his moderate allies from taking up a U.S. offer of talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leaders talk with him about giving up their nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation.

Trump made the offer as he increased economic and military pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the U.S. Navy and Air Force presence in the Gulf. Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East, a U.S. official told Reuters on Friday.

The U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday and American B-52 bombers have also arrived at a U.S. base in Qatar, U.S. Central Command said.

Iran has dismissed both moves - which the United States said it took after U.S. intelligence signaled possible preparations by Tehran to attack U.S. forces or interests - as “psychological warfare” designed to intimidate it.


In an advisory posted on Thursday, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) said that since early May there had been an increased possibility of Iran or its regional proxies taking action against U.S. and partner interests.

These included, MARAD said, oil production infrastructure, after Tehran threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz chokepoint through which about a fifth of oil consumed globally passes.

“Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, or the Persian Gulf,” MARAD said.

“Reporting indicates heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against U.S. forces and interests.”

HEATED RHETORIC
Millions of barrels of oil pass daily through the various bottlenecks from Middle East oil producers to global markets.

U.S.-Iranian tensions have risen since Trump withdrew a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and major powers and began ratcheting up sanctions to throttle Tehran’s economy.

Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, told Reuters on Thursday its forces were on a heightened state of readiness, although the U.S. military was not seeking or preparing for war with Iran.


MARAD said U.S.-flagged ships were encouraged to contact the Fifth Fleet at least two days before sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. The fleet’s job is to protect commercial shipping in the area.

Washington further tightened sanctions on Iran this month - eliminating waivers that had allowed some countries to buy its oil - with a goal of reducing Tehran’s crude exports to zero.

Iran responded by relaxing some curbs on its nuclear program concerning material stockpiles but continues to comply with commitments to restrict its uranium enrichment activity.

Rhetoric has grown heated on both sides.

The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted hardliner Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: “Their billion(-dollar) fleet can be destroyed with one missile.

“If they attempt any move, they will ... (face) dozens of missiles because at that time (government) officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” he said.

‘SANCTIONS HAVE NO EFFECT!’
Separately, Yadollah Javani, the elite Revolutionary Guards’ deputy head for political affairs, said: “No talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us.”

“Our nation ... sees America as unreliable,” he said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, echoing a stance Iran has taken since the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

Thousands of Iranians took part in state-sponsored marches on Friday to support the government’s decision to reduce limits on its nuclear program. Iran has threatened to go further if other parties to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - fail to shield it from U.S. sanctions.

State TV showed protesters marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches had been held across Iran.

“America should know, sanctions have no effect!” chanted the protesters.

Reporting By Jonathan Saul in London, Phil Stewart in Washington and by Dubai Newsroom; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Grant McCool

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Fully Armed F-15Cs Have Arrived In The Middle East Amid Accusations Of Iranian Threats (Updated)
The fighter jets join other F-15s, as well as B-52s and F-35s, already in the Middle East and the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group will soon arrive, too.
By Joseph Trevithick
May 10, 2019


USAF

The U.S. Air Force has deployed a contingent of F-15C Eagle fighter jets to the Middle East, sending them on their way carrying live missiles. This follows the arrival of four B-52H Stratofortress bombers and the early appearance in the Persian Gulf of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and her strike group, all ostensibly in response to still largely unclarified threats to American forces in the region from Iran and its proxies.

On May 9, 2018, Air Forces Central Command announced the arrival of the F-15Cs, which had occurred the day before, but offered few details, simply releasing photos showing two Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom taxing at an "undisclosed location" in Southwest Asia. One of the planes in the carried the name Deadpool, a reference to the Marvel Comics anti-hero, while the other had the nickname "Starscream" and the logo of the Decepticons, the villains of Transformers franchise, which involves sentient robots that can transform into various vehicles and aircraft. Starscream originally had the ability to transform into the likeness of an F-15. It is unclear how many Eagles the Air Force has deployed to the Middle East or may be planning to send in the near future.


USAF
An F-15C Eagle nicknamed Starscream after arriving in the Middle East.


The released pictures also showed that the planes were carrying live weapon loads consisting of 6 AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and a pair of AIM-9X Sidewinder close-in dogfighting missiles. They also each carried an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) on the centerline, which offers a long-range visual identification capability for the F-15C, which you can read about more here.
"U.S. Air Force fighter squadrons enhance regional partnerships and demonstrate a continued commitment to regional security and stability," a caption to one of the photographs read. "These aircraft were moved within the theater to be best positioned to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region."

USAF
The pictures the Air Force released show the two jets carrying live AIM-120C and AIM-9X missiles.


It is worth noting that in February 2019, the Air Force withdrew a contingent of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and replaced them with F-15Cs. Two months later, the Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters arrived at that same base marking the first time the service had operationally deployed these stealthy jets to the Middle East, but not as a replacement for the Eagles. As with other recent force deployments to the region, it is unclear as yet as to whether the deployment of the additional Eagles had already been scheduled to make a trip to the Middle East well in advance.

Also on May 9, 2019, two additional B-52Hs from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisana arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, bringing the total number of the bombers there to four. The first pair had begun their deployment two days earlier.

USAF
The first two B-52Hs from the 2nd Bomb Wing sit on the ramp at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on May 8, 2019.


The USS Abraham Lincoln, and her associated strike group, is still sailing toward the Persian Gulf, transiting through the Red Sea on May 9, 2019. The carrier strike group was scheduled to deploy to the region, but after first conducting various activities in the Mediterranean Sea. On May 6, 2019, a statement from National Security Advisor John Bolton had announced that the ships would instead go directly to the Middle East.

Separately, online plane spotters have noticed a recent flow of C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft from Europe heading toward the Persian Gulf, but it is unclear whether or not this is related to the recent deployments of aircraft and ships. The Air Force had only recently withdrawn B-1 Bone bombers from Al Udied and did so without any immediate plans for any new bombers to arrive to take their place.

It could be that the service now needs to bring back a variety of personnel and supporting equipment again to sustain the new bomber operations. They could also be supporting the arrival of the F-15s from the United Kingdom or some entirely separate mission.


The buildup is officially in response to intelligence that showed unspecified threats from Iran and its various regional proxies against American forces throughout the Middle East. Since Bolton's initial announcement, media reports, citing unnamed sources have suggested that the intelligence came by way of Israel and that it involved details about the movement of ballistic missiles in the region by sea.

It remains unclear who actually has been responding to who and whether or not Iran only began making its moves in the first place in response to U.S. actions. Tensions between the United States and Iran have already been steadily building in recent months. Notably, in April 2019, the U.S. government designated all of Iran's powerful quasi-military Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization, heaping even more sanctions on top of the group, which has ties to Iran's controversial nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as international militant and terrorist networks. In response, Iran designated all U.S. military forces in the Middle East as terrorists, a largely symbolic gesture.

Sipa via AP
Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


Official statements from the Trump Administration, including Trump himself, have offered little additional clarity on the situation and the scope of the potential threats and just how imminent, or not, they actually are or might be. Iran, has, unsurprisingly, categorically denied the accusations, but its hostile position to the United States and its regional allies is no secret, nor is the fact that it supports a variety of terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, who have targeted Americans and their allies over the years.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged in an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks. The response of the United States and our partners and allies has been clear: We do not seek war," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a statement on May 9, 2019. "The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against U.S. interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive U.S. response."

At the same time, there is also no evidence, so far, that it, or its proxies, have made any new or particularly provocative moves as the U.S. government asserts. Some reports have suggested that American officials may be misinterpreting the intelligence and making whatever Iran is or isn't doing out to be more an imminent concern than it actually is. In a May 9, 2019 interview with MSNBC, Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi specifically drew comparisons to the deliberate manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Arnulf Stoffel/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP Images
Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi, then-Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs, in 2016.


The mixed messaging goes beyond the military domain, as well. On May 8, 2019, the Trump Administration his Iran's metal industries with all new sanctions. This goes beyond the oil and other sanctions that had come back into force after Trump pulled out of the controversial Iran Deal over that country's nuclear program in 2018. But the next day, the President took a more diplomatic tone, noting that he was often the one to "temper" National Security Advisor Bolton's hawkish impulses.

“What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters on May 9, 2019. "We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons – not too much to ask. And we would help put them back to great shape."

It should be noted that the Iran Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), did put in place provisions that had prevented Iran from building nuclear weapons. All of the parties, including the United States, agreed that Iran was complying with this deal. The Trump Administration pulled out of the agreement based largely on the argument that it did not cover other worrisome activities, such as ballistic missile development, support for international terrorism, and domestic human rights in Iran.

“No talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us," Yadollah Javani, the IRGC's deputy head for political affairs, told the semi-official Tasnim news outlet in Iran on May 10, 2019. "Our nation... sees America as unreliable."

The growing concern now is that miscalculations and miscommunication from both the United States and Iran could lead them to stumble into a larger conflagration, one that could also potentially set off proxy conflicts in other countries where Iran has significant influence. Hardline elements in the country have now called for attacks on the Abraham Lincoln. There are been renewed threats to blockade the immensely important Strait of Hormuz, as well, which would have worldwide repercussions.

But these rhetorical threats are well in line with years of Iranian posturing and bluster, which, so far, has yet to lead to actual major actions on their part, despite flamboyant military displays, including the destruction of a mock aircraft carrier during an exercise in 2015. Any conflict between the United States and Iran would be protracted and brutal, but it seems hard to see how the Iranian military could actually win a stand-up fight against its American counterparts and, by and large, they seem to know it. Going as far as to close off the Strait of Hormuz could easily do as much, if not more damage, to Iran's economy as anyone else.


Iran's very real capabilities, including shore-launched anti-ship cruise missiles, ballistic missiles that may have anti-ship capabilities, naval mines, submarines, small manned and unmanned boats able to conduct swarming attacks, and more, are more intended to make the price the United States would have to pay in any conflict too unbearable to contemplate. This is all bolstered by the added threat of cyber attacks or the use of proxies to conduct terrorist attacks far from any battlefield.

All told, the entire situation seems as nebulous as ever. Trump's comments regarding Bolton only seem to fuel the previous speculation that the National Security Advisor might be trying to goad Iran into responding and providing a pretext for a more forceful American response.

"[Bolton] has strong views on things, but that's O.K," Trump said on May 9, 2019. "I have John Bolton and I have other people who are a little more dovish and ultimately I make the decision."

So far, this exchange of ideas in the White House has led to a surge of U.S. forces into the Middle East, but with little apparent explanation as to their ultimate purpose.

Update: 5:55pm EST—
Voice Of America has reported a new set of force changes and deployments to the Middle East. This includes the arrival of the San Antonio-class landing platform dock amphibious ship USS Arlington in the Persian Gulf and the U.S. Army sending a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery to an undisclosed location.

"USS Arlington will be replacing the USS Fort McHenry already in the region," VOA Carla Babb Tweeted out. "It will be providing additional command and control capability in the region, says sr. military official. Would not say where Patriot is being deployed."

USS Arlington and USS Fort McHenry are both part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, which also includes the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. That Arlington was not already in the Persian Gulf with Kearsarge actually points to that ship potentially having been operating off the coast of Libya, where U.S. Marines landed in early April 2019 to help other American personnel evacuate in the face of heavy fighting in and around the country's capital Tripoli. If Fort McHenry is now leaving, that ship may be moving back into the Mediterranean to take up station off Libya, where things also remain very much in flux.

The U.S. military had Patriot missile units deployed in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan until withdrawing them in late 2018 to meet order to reposition them to be better aligned with the Pentagon's renewed focus on a potential large-scale conflict with a major opponent, such as Russia or China. The redeployment of a single battery would not return the United States to the posture it had had last year, though the U.S. military could decide to deploy additional systems in the near future.

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Iran's Guards commander says U.S. military presence in Gulf is 'an opportunity': ISNA
May 12, 2019 / Updated 33 minutes ago

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States’ military presence in the Gulf used to be a serious threat but now it is an opportunity, a senior commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now...the threats have switched to opportunities,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division said.

He added, “If [the Americans] make a move we will hit them in the head.”

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Iran Guards chief says Americans have started 'psychological war'
May 12, 2019
Updated 40 minutes ago

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States has started a psychological war in the region, the commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said in a parliament session on Sunday, according to a parliamentary spokesman.

The U.S. military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what the Trump administration says are “clear indications” of threats from Iran to U.S. forces there.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month.

“Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” the spokesman for the parliamentary leadership, Behrouz Nemati, said, summarizing the Guards’ commander’s comments, according to parliament’s ICANA news site.

Major General Hossein Salami was appointed as head of the Guards last month.

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
UAE: 4 Vessels Subjected to 'Sabotage' Near Territorial Waters
Sunday, 12 May, 2019


Four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates without causing casualties, the foreign ministry said on Sunday in a statement carried by state news agency WAM.

The incident occurred near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, it said.

"Subjecting commercial vessels to sabotage operations and threatening the lives of their crew is considered a dangerous development," said the ministry.

The ministry said it had launched an investigation in coordination with international authorities.

There had been "no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels."

The statement added that the incident did not result in "spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel."


 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Iran military commander: U.S.-Iran war is 'not possible'
May 12, 2019
By Daniel Uria


IRGC Commander Hossein Salami said that a war between Iran and the United States is "not possible" while addressing parliament on Sunday. Photo courtesy Ali Khamenei/Wikimedia Commons


May 12 (UPI) -- The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Sunday that the United States "does not have the ability" to wage war against Iran.

During a visit to Iran's parliament on Sunday, IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami ruled out the possibility of U.S. military action against Iran, citing the strength of the country's armed forces and "vulnerabilities" of U.S. aircraft carriers.

"The American war against Iran is not possible, because Washington does not have the ability and the courage to wage war against it," he said.

Salami also dismissed U.S. decisions to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and USS Arlington amphibious transport dock to the Middle East amid the rising tensions.

"The U.S. is seeking this step to intimidate the people and and some military officials of the occurrence of war," he said.

Tensions between the two countries flared after Iran partially pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal it signed with six other nations in 2015.

Iran's government said it would stockpile low enriched uranium and heavy water as well as restart its Arak nuclear reactor if it isn't compensated for losses it would incur after U.S. President Donald Trump canceled temporary waivers permitting countries to purchase Iranian oil without breaking U.S. sanctions.

The United States also imposed new sanctions on Iranian metals, including iron, steel, aluminum and copper which prompted rallies across the country supporting the Iranian government's hardline stance against the U.S. actions.

Prior to Salami's appearance in parliament on Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said called for the nation to remain united in the face of pressure from enemies.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the United States does "not seek war" but warned Iran not to mistake U.S. restraint for a lack of resolve.

 

Lieutenant

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 25, 2014
Messages
1,578
Reactions
1,658 14
UAE: 4 Vessels Subjected to 'Sabotage' Near Territorial Waters
Sunday, 12 May, 2019


Four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates without causing casualties, the foreign ministry said on Sunday in a statement carried by state news agency WAM.

The incident occurred near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, it said.

"Subjecting commercial vessels to sabotage operations and threatening the lives of their crew is considered a dangerous development," said the ministry.

The ministry said it had launched an investigation in coordination with international authorities.

There had been "no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels."

The statement added that the incident did not result in "spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel."


What is happening here? I read that some Iranian elements were behind this. Is the message directed at the US?
 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
What is happening here? I read that some Iranian elements were behind this. Is the message directed at the US?
Mullah is needlessly provoking the US. If they dont back down, this is not going to end well for them.
 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
UAE says four cargo vessels 'sabotaged' off Fujairah coast
Earlier reports by Al Mayadeen and Sputnik exaggerated the scale of the incident and falsely claimed there was a major fire in Port of Fujairah

Daniel Sanderson
Updated: May 13, 2019 10:17 AM

Al Mayadeen - Copy.jpg

Al Mayadeen used graphics and breaking news banners to claim Fujairah port and tankers anchored just off the coast were on fire.


PS1205- FUJAIRAH PORT07 - Copy.jpg

PS1205- FUJAIRAH PORT04 - Copy.jpg

PS1205- FUJAIRAH PORT01 - Copy.jpg

PoF 3 - Copy.jpg

There was no sign of a fire or damage to Fujairah Port or vessels anchored off the coast on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National

Four cargo vessels were subjected to "sabotage operations" off the coast of Fujairah, the UAE's Foreign Ministry has said.

The incident took place on Sunday morning near UAE territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman.

It said that there had been no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels and no spill of chemicals or fuel.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said acts of sabotage on civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board "is a serious development".

An investigation is continuing. It did not apportion blame or identify suspects. The nature of the attack was not immediately clear and the names of the vessels and their operators are yet to be released.

But on Monday, the Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih confirmed two Saudi oil tankers were among those attacked, suffering "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels".

Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the GCC, denounced the act of sabotage, describing it as "a serious escalation which demonstrates evil intents by those who planned and carried it out, undermining the safety of maritime traffic in the region and threatening the safety and lives of those on board".

Al Zayani called on the international community and international organisations concerned with maritime navigation to assume their political and legal responsibilities to prevent such acts by any parties attempting to undermine maritime traffic safety and security.

"Such irresponsible acts will increase tension and conflicts in the region and expose its peoples to great danger," he said.

Earlier, the UAE was the subject of false accounts of an attack after news outlets with links to the Kremlin, Hezbollah and Iran spread claims that a series of explosions had occurred on land at Fujairah’s port.

Reports that between seven and 10 oil tankers anchored at the port were in flames were shared widely on social media accounts on Sunday.

Some reports said that American and French warplanes had been flying over the port at the time of the incident.

The Foreign Ministry described the claims as "baseless and unfounded".

Authorities in Fujairah earlier said operations at the port were continuing as normal. News of the sabotage was announced shortly after 7pm.

The reports of fire and explosions that emerged on Sunday morning apparently originated in Al Mayadeen, a Lebanese broadcaster and news outlet regarded as pro-Hezbollah.

They were quickly picked up and reported by Sputnik news, which is funded by Russia, and spread across social media by pro-Iran Twitter accounts.

An image of a flaming tanker purporting to be evidence of the attack was a picture of a tanker called the Kashmir on fire in Jebel Ali in 2009.

Among the comments spread by pro-Tehran accounts along with the news stories were warnings that it was not safe to travel to the UAE and that air travel had been severely disrupted.

Hamad Al Rahoomi, a member of the UAE’s Federal National Council, said foreign broadcasters had exaggerated the scale of the incident and claimed that the port was on fire.

“It is weak. It was clear this was fake news," Mr Al Rahoomi said. "Everybody can see the location. Something like that you would have been able to see for miles and miles."

Bahrain strongly condemned the sabotage. In a statement by Bahrain News Agency late on Sunday, the Bahraini Foreign Ministry denounced the act, saying it was aimed at threatening the security and stability of marine navigation.

It urged the international community to guarantee the safety of marine navigation and confront all attempts to undermine international peace and security.

The governments of Jordan and Yemen also condemned the sabotage.

On Sunday, amid reaction to the false reports, senior Iranian politician Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s national security committee, claimed that the "explosions" showed that the security of Gulf states was "fragile".

Press TV, the Iranian state-funded English-language broadcaster, ran an interview with Hadi Kobaysi, who it described as a Beirut political analyst.

Mr Kobaysi claimed the incident showed there was a “problem” with how the UAE managed its critical infrastructure and speculated that there may be a link with the conflict in Yemen.



na13-Times - Copy.jpg

Mainstream publications including the Times of India picked up the story from Al Mayadeen and Sputnik and reported there had been explosions.
Press TV continued broadcasting the interview hours after the reports were denied by UAE authorities and in the absence and any independently verified reports to back up the claims.

Sputnik also continued to report the story prominently alongside the denials.

Quoting Al Mayadeen, Sputnik claimed “seven oil tankers were completely burnt and firefighters were still trying to extinguish the blaze".

Claiming its story was based on unidentified sources in the Gulf, Al Mayadeen later claimed to have obtained names and numbers of the tankers involved.

The misinformation comes at a tense time in the region, with Iran last week suspending compliance with parts of the 2015 nuclear deal. Last week President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was pulling out of two commitments. He said the country would keep enriched uranium stocks rather than sell its surplus abroad, as they are required to under the deal. He also said Iran would begin developing its Arak heavy water reactor. Heavy water is a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium.

Adding to the tension is news that the US has sent a carrier group to the region to counter what the White House claims are “clear indications” of threats from Tehran to its forces.

Fujairah is in a key location strategically, lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. The strait is a vital oil and natural gas corridor for the global energy market and Iran has repeatedly threatened to block it.

The world’s largest crude oil storage centre is being built in Fujairah.

In response to the reports of explosions yesterday afternoon, Fujairah Media Office said: "The operations at the port are going as normal. Media outlets must be responsible and rely on official sources."

Calls and emails to Al Mayadeen and Sputnik for comment went unanswered on Sunday.

Al Mayadeen recently ran an interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as he urged supporters to donate to his group and to wage war "by money".

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Two Saudi tankers off Fujairah coast targets of 'sabotage attack'
May 13, 2019


The UAE on Sunday said the sabotage targeted four boats, without elaborating or naming suspects

Two Saudi oil tankers came under "sabotage attack" off the UAE coast, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday, quoting the Saudi energy minister.

"Two Saudi oil tankers were subjected to a sabotage attack in the exclusive economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah, while on their way to cross into the Arabian Gulf," SPA cited Khalid Al Falih as saying.

The UAE on Sunday said the sabotage targeted four boats, without elaborating or naming suspects. It came just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets aired false reports of explosions at the nearby Emirati port in Fujairah, which bunkers and ships oil.

He said one tanker was en route to the kingdom to be loaded with Saudi crude oil to be sent to the United States.

He did not identify the tankers.

He said: "Fortunately, the attack didn't lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels."

Saudi state TV cited a source in the Saudi foreign ministry as saying that the attacks constitute a "dangerous threat to the safety of navigation and affects negatively regional and international security".

The US has issued a new alert to maritime traffic over alleged "acts of sabotage" of ships off the coast of the UAE amid heightened regional tensions between American and Iran.

The US Maritime Administration, which stressing the incidents had not been confirmed, warned shippers early on Monday to exercise caution when travelling past Fujairah, a port city on the eastern edge of the UAE on the Gulf of Oman.

It gave co-ordinates of the alleged sabotage, putting it just north of Fujairah.

No one was hurt and Abu Dhabi called on world powers to help keep maritime traffic safe.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed concern at the event, warning against attempts to undermine the stability of international maritime transport, the IRNA news agency reported.

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry condemned the attack off the UAE coast in a post on Twitter.

"We condemn the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates," the ministry wrote.

The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack and stressed the need for the international community to bear the responsibility of maritime trade around the world.

Secretary General of the GCC, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, also addressed the attack, describing it as "a serious escalation which demonstrates evil intents by those who planned and carried it out, undermining the safety of maritime traffic in the region and threatening the safety and lives of those on board".

Fujairah port is the only terminal in the UAE located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass, and which Iran has repeatedly threatened to close in case of a military confrontation with Washington.

The small emirate has an oil terminal and a pipeline that delivers crude oil from Abu Dhabi which sits on the majority of UAE oil reserves.

The Pentagon said Friday that it was deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to bolster an aircraft carrier force sent to counter alleged threats from Iran.

The increasing tensions come as Tehran said Wednesday it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers.

Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has reimposed since it quit the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy.

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
US Embassy in Iraq advises citizens against all travel amid tensions with Iran
It also told Americans in Iraq to be cautious and keep a low profile
May 13, 2019


A member of Iraqi federal police forces stands guard infront of a Mosque in Baghdad. EPA
A member of Iraqi federal police forces stands guard infront of a Mosque in Baghdad. EPA

The US Embassy in Iraq has issued a warning to its citizens advising them against traveling to the country amid heightened tensions in the region.

The warning advised US citizens in the country to “remain vigilant” and to “keep a low profile”.

The recent incident where four four cargo vessels were subjected to "sabotage operations" off the coast of Fujairah, has further intensified response from both residents and officials.

The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the attack and stressed the need for the international community to bear the responsibility of maritime trade around the world.

Dr Al Zayani echoed regional calls for more burden sharing on maritime safety by international organisations responsible for naval trade security to help prevent more attacks.

The GCC is highly dependent on maritime trade networks to export oil, a trade that accounts for more than 90 per cent of the Arabian Gulf's economies.

Any disruption to the trade networks have sparked fears of cutting off the major source of revenue for oil producers Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Fujairah port is located close to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic strait that separates Oman’s coast of Musandam from Iran by less than 60 kilometres. The narrow strait sees some 30 per cent of the world’s oil pass through every day.

"Such irresponsible acts will increase tension and conflicts in the region and expose its peoples to great danger," Dr Al Zayani said.
Iran"s foreign ministry spokesperson said the attacks were “alarming and regrettable” according to a statement issued on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He said the attacks will disrupt shipping safety and “he warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security”.

The statement ended with Mr Mousavi also calling on “the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements”.

It is still unclear who was behind the attacks but the US issued a warning saying that “Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels”.

The UAE is currently conducting an investigation into the “sabotage”.

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Saudi oil tankers attacked off UAE coast
Updated 19 sec ago
Arab News
May 13, 2019

  • The two tankers were targeted off the coast of the UAE
  • One tanker was en route to Saudi Arabia to be loaded with crude oil to send to the US
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Monday that two Saudi tankers were targeted in a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Khalid Al-Falih said the two tankers were targeted off the coast of Fujairah. He explained that one tanker was en route to the Kingdom to be loaded with Saudi crude oil to send to the United States to supply Saudi Aramco customers.

“Fortunately, the attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels,” Al-Falih said.

Al-Falih’s comments came as the US issued a new warning to sailors and the UAE’s regional allies condemned the reported sabotage of four ships off the coast of Fujairah.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Kingdom condemned the acts of sabotage that targeted commercial cargo ships near the territorial waters of the UAE.

“This criminal act poses a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime traffic and negatively affects regional and international peace and security,” the ministry said.

The UAE foreign ministry had reported on Sunday that four commercial vessels were targeted near its territorial waters.

The foreign ministry released a statement saying that the vessels - targeted at a distance of 115 kilometers from Iran - were “civilian trading vessels of various nationalities”, and that the UAE was investigating the incident with local and international bodies.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, later tweeted that he welcomed the support of his country’s allies.

He said the investigation was being carried out in a professional fashion and that the truth would be revealed.
الدعم والمساندة الكبيرين لدولة الامارات إثر حادث التخريب المتعمد لأربع سفن في مياهنا الإقليمية أساسه مواقف الدولة الإيجابية في دعم السلام والإستقرار، صداقاتنا الكبيرة كسبناها بشفافيتنا ومواقفنا، التحقيق يتم بحرفية وستتضح الحقائق ولنا قراءاتنا وإستنتاجاتنا.
— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) May 13, 2019
Rumors about ships inside the port being sabotaged were unfounded, the ministry added.

The Arab League condemned the attacks, describing them as a "crime" and added that the league would stand by the UAE and Saudi Arabia in their efforts to defend their security.

The port of Fujairah continues to operate as normal and there were no victims of the sabotage incident.

The ministry added that targeting merchant ships and threatening the lives of crew members is a “dangerous development,” and that the government considers the acts of sabotage to be a threat to the safety and security of the UAE.

The statement came just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets aired false reports of explosions at the city’s port.

The US has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

However, Iran on Monday called attacks on ships in the Gulf “alarming”, after the UAE and Saudi Arabia said several vessels including oil tankers were damaged in acts of sabotage off the Emirati coast.

The incidents are “alarming and regrettable,” Iranian Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in an English-language statement on the ministry’s website, calling for a probe into the attacks and warning of “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s foreign policy and security chief, Federica Mogherini, urged to avoid any escalation on Iran. Mogherini said that a discussion would be held on Monday how to continue backing full implementation of the nuclear deal.

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also warned of the risks of an unintended conflict between the US and Iran over the unraveling nuclear deal.

“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended,” Hunt told reporters in Brussels, adding that it was crucial not to put Iran back on the path of re-nuclearisation.
(With AFP, AP, and Reuters)

 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Britain Warns of ‘Unwanted’ Iran-US Conflict
13 May, 2019


British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt. Reuters file photo

Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran and the United States could trigger a conflict by accident, Britain's foreign minister said on Monday, urging a period of calm ahead of talks between the European Union and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We are very worried about a conflict, about the risk of a conflict ... of an escalation that is unintended," Britain's Jeremy Hunt told reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

US President Donald Trump is seeking to isolate Tehran by cutting off its oil exports after pulling out of a 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program. Trump has also sent US warplanes and an aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

Hunt, who was due later to meet Pompeo along with the foreign ministers of France and Germany and the EU's diplomatic chief, also expressed concern about the risks of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if Iran were to acquire such weapons.

"We need to make sure that we don't end up putting Iran back on the path to re-nuclearization," Hunt said, calling for "a period of calm so that everyone understands what the other side is thinking".

Trump has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what officials in Washington have said is a threat to US troops in the region.

The EU is trying to implement a new channel to allow Iran to sell its oil and circumvent newly-instated US sanctions, but setting it up is proving complex.

The US State Department said in a statement that Pompeo had canceled a planned stopover in Moscow to go instead to Brussels "to discuss recent threatening actions and statements" by Iran.

After Brussels Pompeo will travel to Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks on Iran with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.


 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
Saudi Arabia says two Saudi oil tankers attacked near UAE waters
Reuters -
13th May 2019


Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two Saudi oil tankers were among vessels targeted by a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, condemning it as an attempt to undermine the security of global crude supplies.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not say who was behind the operation, which took place amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.

Iran’s foreign ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and asked for an investigation into the matter.


The strait, a vital global oil and gas shipping route, separates the Gulf states and Iran, which has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over sanctions and the U.S. military’s presence in the region.

Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent crude futures trading at $70.98 a barrel at 0618 GMT.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that one of the two Saudi vessels attacked was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude from Ras Tanura port for delivery to state-owned Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States.

The attack did not lead to any casualties or an oil spill but caused significant damage to the vessels’ structures, said the statement.

INTERTANKO, an association of independent tanker owners and operators, said in a note that it has seen pictures showing that “at least two ships have holes in their sides due to the impact of a weapon”.

Trading and shipping sources identified the Saudi vessels as Bahri-owned very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah.
Bahri did not respond to a request for comment.

The UAE foreign ministry has said there were no casualties and the Fujairah port operations were normal. An investigation had been launched in coordination with international authorities, it said, calling on global powers to prevent any parties trying to harm maritime safety and security.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry in a separate statement voiced support for its close regional ally the UAE, the Middle East’s trade and business hub. Dubai’s stock exchange index fell 1.6% and Abu Dhabi’s index 1.7% in early trade on Monday.

ESCALATING TENSIONS

Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE have strongly backed U.S. sanctions against fellow OPEC producer and regional foe Shi’ite Iran. After the United States ended all sanctions waivers on Iranian crude, Washington said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would help compensate for any shortage in oil supply.

Falih said the attack aimed to undermine maritime freedom and the security of oil supplies to consumers worldwide.
“The international community has a joint responsibility to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets and the danger they pose to the global economy,” he said.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was cited by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying the incident “has negative impact on maritime transportation security” and asked regional countries to be “vigilant against destabilising plots of foreign agents”.

The U.S. Maritime Administration said in an advisory on Sunday the incidents off Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, have not been confirmed and urged caution.

Earlier this month, the Maritime Administration said U.S. commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through Middle East waterways could be targeted by Iran in one of the threats to U.S. interests posed by Tehran.

Washington said it was sending a U.S. aircraft carrier and other forces to the Middle East due to what it said were Iranian threats, while Tehran has called the U.S. military presence “a target” rather than a threat.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s government has been ratcheting up pressure on Iran with sanctions since Washington withdrew a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Washington tightened sanctions on Iran this month, eliminating waivers that had allowed some countries to buy its oil, saying it wanted to cut Tehran’s crude exports to zero. Iran has said it will not let its oil exports be halted.


 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
6,755
Reactions
5,927 263
EU supports Iran nuclear deal, wants to avoid further escalation
Reuters
May 13, 2019
  • United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to meet EU officials in Brussels on Monday to talk about Iran
  • European countries said last week they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran
BRUSSELS: The European Union fully supports the international nuclear accord with Iran and wants rival powers to avoid any further escalation over the issue, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday.

“We will continue to support it as much as we can with all our instruments and all our political will,” Mogherini told reporters before a meeting with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, who are signatories to the deal.

Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also warned of the risks of an unintended conflict between the US and Iran over the unraveling nuclear deal.
“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended,” Hunt told reporters in Brussels, adding that it was crucial not to put Iran back on the path of re-nuclearisation.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also expected to meet EU officials in Brussels on Monday to talk about Iran.
Mogherini said she was informed during the night of Pompeo’s arrival to Brussels where EU foreign ministers are gathered for a regular monthly meeting.

“We will be here all day with a busy agenda. So we will see during the day how and if will manage to arrange a meeting. He’s always welcome obviously, but there are no precise plans at the moment,” Mogherini said.

Pompeo is on his way to the Black Sea resort of Sochi where he plans to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday to discuss Iran.

European countries said last week they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran relaxed restrictions on its nuclear program and threatened moves that might breach the 2015 international pact.

“We in Europe agree that this treaty is necessary for our security,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. “Nobody wants Iran to get possession of an atomic bomb and that’s been achieved so far.”

Iran’s move was in response to US sanctions imposed following Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the accord with Tehran a year ago.

 

Top