US Navy ready to ensure 'free navigation' after Iran Hormuz threat

The US Navy stands ready to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce, a spokesman for the US military's Central Command said on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 05 July 2018
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US Navy ready to ensure 'free navigation' after Iran Hormuz threat

  • Revolutionary Guards warn they would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz
  • Central command spokesman says and US will promote security in the region

LONDON: The US Navy stands ready to ensure free navigation and the flow of commerce, the US military's Central Command said on Thursday, after Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned they would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and some senior military commanders have threatened in recent days to disrupt oil shipments from Gulf countries if Washington tries to cut Tehran's exports.

“The US and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked by Reuters what would be the US Naval Forces’ reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

In May, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program.

Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday their forces were ready to block the strait, which links the Gulf to the Arabian Sea.

If Iran cannot sell its oil under US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to either, said Mohammad Ali Jafari, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful military force.

“We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil transit channel in the world with about one-fifth of global oil consumption passing through each day.


Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

Updated 35 min 2 sec ago
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Is a spate of terror incidents in Egypt a ‘last dance’ for militants or a failure in security operations

  • Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability

CAIRO: Three terrorist attacks in the space of as many days have raised questions over whether the Egyptian security forces have brought extremist militancy in the country under control.

The attacks between Friday and Monday came after a period of relative calm. The Egyptian military has been involved in an extensive operation against terrorist groups in their stronghold in the Sinai Peninsula for more than a year. Police forces have also been carrying out operations against cells in a large number of governorates.

The first of the three incidents was a failed attempt to plant a bomb near security forces in Cairo on Friday. On Saturday, however, a massive blast killed 14 members of the military on a security mission near El-Arish in Sinai.
The third bombing on Monday could have been just as deadly. A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was chased by police in the densely populated Al-Hussein district of Cairo near Al-Azhar Mosque. In the end three officers were killed.
The attacks came after months of relative calm in an insurgency that began after the Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in 2012.
Since then, militants have targeted the Egyptian security forces, churches, coptic Christians, tourists and ordinary Egyptians, killing hundreds.
In November 2017, gunmen carried out the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history — killing more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai.

In response, the military launched a vast operation in February last year to “eliminate terrorism in Egypt.” The operation is ongoing.

Some have speculated that the sudden spate of incidents is the militants lashing out to spoil the image that Egypt is returning to stability.

“[Terrorists] want to give Egypt a bad image to foreigners living abroad, on order to make a point. They want to abort the democratic reform process that Egypt’s been implementing in the past period,” MP Mohamed Maher Hamed told Arab News.

Author and political analyst Walid Qutb said Egypt is keen to host more important regional and international events and forums, including the African Nations football tournament, and a drop in terror-related incidents is key to this.

He said the return of terrorist operations at this time is an attempt to send a clear message that Egypt is not a safe country. What the extremists have done recently is a final dance and lost, Qutb said.
But political analyst Nabil Omar told Arab News that the elimination of terrorism requires more than just maintaining security forces.
There needs to be improved education and the spreading of correct information to improve the mentality of Egyptians, he said.
“I don’t think that the return of terrorist operations happening currently is linked to changes in politics in Egypt,” Omar said. “It has nothing to do with how well security is either. “Terrorist attacks are happening because the terrorists in question have decided to do so.”
The recent incidents in Cairo are both strange, Omar said. They targeted police forces in locations packed with civilians.
This could mean that terrorists want their attacks to be even bigger and deadlier, even if that comes at the cost of the innocent or unarmed.
“The positive thing here is that these recent terrorist attacks came after a long period of silence. During that period of time, the Egyptian military had the upper hand in relation to the terrorists – who used to be more in control before,” Omar said.
The attacks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described to the Munich Security Summit this week the Egyptian experience in regards to terrorism.