Morocco cracks down on migrants heading to Spain

In this Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 photo, sub-Saharan migrants aiming to cross to Europe take shelter in a forest overlooking the neighborhood of Masnana, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco.(AP)
Updated 18 September 2018
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Morocco cracks down on migrants heading to Spain

TANGIERS: Hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants escaping poverty and violence in their home countries are fleeing to forests to escape police raids in the northern Moroccan port city of Tangiers — only to be chased from their makeshift camps.
Migrants have been arriving in Morocco in increasing numbers in a bid to get to Spain via the Strait of Gibraltar. A prime route from Libya to Italy is being choked, notably by the Libyan coast guard intercepting smugglers’ boats.
Rights activists in this North African kingdom say the crackdown on migrants is the biggest since 2015.
Many of those arriving in Tangiers, one of several Moroccan jump-off points to Spain, say they escaped into the forest after police smashed doors of their small shared rooms in Tangiers and took money they were making to pay smugglers.
Now, migrants say they aren’t safe in the nearby forest where they claim there are more raids, with police seizing their belongings, burning camps and forcing them onto buses to head to points in southern Morocco — further away from the northern border.
Those who escaped the raids in town and in the forest say they have nowhere left to hide.
If they return to the city, “They (authorities) ask residents to hand us over if we go asking for water,” said Skey Mansare, a migrant from Cameroon.
A Morocco government spokesman, Mustapha El Khalfi, said the country can no longer let its territory shelter human trafficking networks and refuses to play the role of gendarme of the region. Authorities say Morocco prevented 65,000 migrants from crossing to Spain in 2017.


US intelligence proves ‘without question’ Iran behind tanker attacks

Updated 19 June 2019
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US intelligence proves ‘without question’ Iran behind tanker attacks

  • Hook: Iranian vessels operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz on June 12 and 13 approached tankers
  • “Those who have seen the intelligence all come away without any question Iran is behind these attacks”

WASHINGTON: The US envoy to Iran Brian Hook said Wednesday US intelligence proves “without question” Iran was behind the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Hook said that Iranian vessels operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz on June 12 and 13 approached tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous before each ship suffered explosions on June 13. 

“Those who have seen the intelligence all come away without any question Iran is behind these attacks,” Hook told a conressional hearing on the Trump adminstration's Iran policy.

Hook added that the intelligence showed a senior Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) official confirmed that its personnel had “completed two actions.”

Earlier the US Navy displayed mine fragments and a magnet it said it had removed from one of two oil tankers, saying the mines bore a striking resemblance to Iranian ones.

Addressing Iran’s involvement in Yemen, committee member Joe Wilson referred to the Houthi attack on Abha airport last week, which injured 26 people. He asked Hook how the US planned to hold Iran accountable for such actions, given Tehran’s support for the Houthis.

Hook said the US supported the right of countries like Saudi Arabia “who are on the front lines of Iranian agression” in their right to defend themselves when attacked, especially by the Houthi rebels.

“Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars organizing, training and equipping the Houthis to fight at a level beyond which makes any normal sense and it has prolonged and intensified the conflict,” Hook said.

“Iran is playing a very long game in Yemen They would very much like to do in Yemen what they have been able to do in Lebanon and to use the Houthis in the same model that they have used Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Hook said there had been half a dozen attacks in the last six weeks and that this was why the US had beefed up its military presence in the region “to establish deterrents.”

The US on Monday announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the region because of the threat from Iran. The deployment is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month. The US has also sent an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers.

Also during the hearing, Hook said Iran was trying to “sow military roots in Syria,” and is attempting to destabilize Lebanon through its support for Hezbollah.