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.


Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

Updated 12 November 2018
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Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

  • The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing
  • Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Monday approved the formation of an independent commission to help determine the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the country’s civil war, which ended nearly three decades ago.
The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing, collect DNA samples and exhume mass graves from the 1975-1990 conflict.
Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament.
“This is the first step toward giving closure to families of the missing hopefully,” said Rona Halabi, spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross. “This represents a milestone for the families who have waited for years to have answers.”
The Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons says more than 17,000 people are estimated to have gone missing during the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said lawmakers approved the law after voting on each of its 38 articles.
LBC TV said lawmakers initially protested, saying calls for accountability may affect current officials. The broadcaster said they were reassured the 1991 amnesty for abuses committed by militias during the war remains in place.
Many of Lebanon’s political parties are led by former warlords implicated in some of the civil war’s worst fighting.
“For the first time after the war, Lebanon enters a genuine reconciliation phase, to heal the wounds and give families the right to know,” Gebran Bassil, the country’s foreign minister tweeted.
The ICRC began compiling DNA samples from relatives of the disappeared in 2016 and has interviewed more than 2,000 families to help a future national commission.
DNA samples have been stored with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the ICRC. The law would allow Lebanese security forces to take part in the sample collection.