US Navy vows to protect Red Sea and Arabian Gulf amid Iran threats

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet, said the US Navy would ensure free navigation for shipping in the region's waterways. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018
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US Navy vows to protect Red Sea and Arabian Gulf amid Iran threats

  • Vice Admiral Scott Stearney says US Navy will ensure the free flow of shipping in the Gulf and Red Sea
  • US Navy to hold a series of exercises in the region's waters this month

JEDDAH: The US Navy has vowed to ensure the free flow of shipping in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea after Iranian threats to disrupt the waterways.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said Iran’s activities across the region are “promoting instability” that is “affecting the region significantly” through its backing of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Bloomberg reported.

“The US and our partners stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” he said on Sunday.

The commander made the comments as he announced a series of exercises this month with regional and global allies as part of the US 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise. One of the exercises will take place in Djibouti, near the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait which marks the entrance to the Red Sea.  The waters in the Strait have been threatened by the Houthi militia in Yemen, which controls part of the Red Sea coast. The Iran-backed group have carried out several attacks targeting international shipping.

Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf if it is stopped from exporting its own oil.

The US is set to impose a second wave of sanctions in November that will target the Iranian energy sector, including the sale of crude to international customers.

The sanctions are being reimposed after  Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal between Iran and international powers earlier this year.

The deal sought to curb Iran’s atomic program in exchange for an easing of the sanctions that had crippled the country’s economy.

Trump criticized the deal for doing little to stop Iran’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.


Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will refuse Israeli tax transfers

Updated 20 February 2019
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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will refuse Israeli tax transfers

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not accept a monthly tax transfer from Israel if it carries out its decision to deduct amounts the Palestinians pay to the families of prisoners and people killed in fighting with Israel.
Abbas on Wednesday accused Israel of trying to put political pressure on him and violating longstanding economic agreements.
He said it would be the “final nail in the coffin” of those agreements and said he would not accept the funds if even “one penny” is deducted.
The monthly tax transfers cover about two-thirds of the Palestinian budget.
Without those funds, Abbas’ autonomy government will fall into a crisis and not be able to pay full salaries to its tens of thousands of employees.