Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

A tug boat moves cargo towards the Strait of Hormuz, in Musandam province, Oman, July 20, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 29 August 2018
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Saudi adviser: Sanctions unlikely to stop Iran exports completely

  • If Iran closes Strait of Hormuz, the UN Security Council is likely to authorize military action

STAVAGNER, NORWAY: Current US sanctions on Iran are unlikely to stop Iranian oil exports completely, a long-time adviser at Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry said on Tuesday, adding Iran would be unable to close the straits of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandab even partially.
Speaking at an oil conference in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, Ibrahim Al-Muhanna said Iran would be the first to lose out on a move to block those major shipping routes and that any such action would trigger further sanctions on Iran.
Iran has said if it cannot sell its oil due to US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz.
“The amount of oil going through the Strait of Hormuz is so large. There’s more than 18 million barrels a day, about two-thirds of world maritime oil trade. Meaning, cutting oil from there will lead to an acute oil shortage and prices will skyrocket,” Muhanna said.
“Is Iran able or willing to close completely, or even partially, the Strait of Hormuz or Bab Al-Mandab, or both? The answer is no, and a really big no ... Current sanctions are unlikely to stop Iranian exports completely.”
He said if Iran closes Strait of Hormuz, the UN Security Council is likely to authorize military action.
Earlier on Monday, Iran went to the UN highest court in a bid to have US sanctions lifted, calling the US move "naked economic aggression."
Iran filed the case with the International Court of Justice in July, claiming that sanctions the Trump administration imposed on May 8 breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates economic and consular ties between the two countries.
At hearings at The Hague, Tehran asked judges at the world court to urgently suspend the sanctions to protect Iranian interests while the case challenging their legality is being heard — a process that can take years.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the legal move an attempt by Tehran "to interfere with the sovereign rights of the US to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 pact between Iran and major world powers under which sanctions were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program. The Trump administration then announced unilateral plans to restore sanctions against Tehran.


Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

Palestinians celebrate the resignation of Israel's defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

  • The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM: A knife-wielding Palestinian attacker sneaked into a Jerusalem police station and lightly wounded four police officers before he was shot and captured, Israeli police said on Thursday.

The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip that ended two days of heavy fighting, the area’s most severe violence since the 50-day Gaza war in 2014.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the knife-wielding attacker climbed over the station’s fence late on Wednesday night and began stabbing officers inside. Other officers then shot the assailant and captured him; he was later taken to hospital.

In the two days of heavy fighting, Palestinian militants had fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel, while Israel carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. A rocket fired from Gaza killed a Palestinian laborer in Israel.

The latest round of violence was triggered by a botched Israeli raid on Sunday that left seven Palestinians and a senior Israeli military officer dead. Before the raid, Egyptian and UN mediators had made progress in reducing tensions.

In recent days, Israel had allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of government workers.

The cease-fire led to the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who had demanded a far stronger Israeli response to the Palestinian rocket attack but appeared to have been overruled by Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Resignation

The resignation threw the government into turmoil and pushed the country toward an early election. Netanyahu presented the decision to step back from a full-blown conflict as a unified one made by his Security Cabinet and based on the military’s recommendations. 

But Lieberman and fellow hard-liner Education Minister Naftali Bennett later expressed reservations, saying they favored a stronger response.

Hamas has staged  near-weekly border protests since March in an effort to lift the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group seized control of the coastal strip in 2007.  This has inflicted heavy damage on Gaza, but Hamas remains firmly in power. Demonstrators each week approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. Israeli snipers have killed about 170 people, most of them unarmed.

Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party was demanding to be given the defense portfolio or he would withdraw his eight seats from Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

Another key coalition partner, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon of center-right Kulanu, reportedly told Netanyahu elections should be called as soon as possible because a stable government was needed to keep the economy on track.

Premier Netanyahu’s political popularity is in large part due to his reputation as Israel’s “Mr. Security,” as he has often been dubbed, and he has defended his decision saying: “Our enemies begged for a cease-fire.

“In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he said.