Macron ‘awaiting explanation’ from Iran on who ordered France bomb plot

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the audience as he visits the Station F startup campus in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 13 October 2018
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Macron ‘awaiting explanation’ from Iran on who ordered France bomb plot

  • France’s foreign ministry said on Oct. 2 there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June plot
  • The plot targeted a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside Paris

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday it was not clear whether a foiled attack on a Paris-based Iranian opposition group was ordered by the higher echelons of authorities in Tehran.
“As you know Iran is sometimes divided into different factions and tensions, and so I can’t say today whether the order came from the top or from this (security) service or that division,” he told France 24 television in an interview.
France’s foreign ministry said on Oct. 2 there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June plot and froze assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals.
The plot targeted a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside Paris. US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.
Belgium charged an Iranian diplomat and three other individuals on Oct. 10 with planning to bomb the meeting. Two of the suspects were intercepted by Belgian police.
One senior French official told Reuters the plot is likely to have been hatched by hard-liners looking to undermine President Hassan Rouhani, who has tried to improve Iran’s relations with the outside world.
Macron said he was still awaiting explanations, but that Rouhani had not given him any during two exchanges he had with the Iranian president.
The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have far-reaching consequences for Rouhani’s government, which is looking to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out and reimposed tough sanctions.
Macron repeated that there should be a more demanding policy toward Iran which needed to include keeping the existing deal, discussing its nuclear work after 2025 when parts of the agreement expire, its ballistic missile program and curtailing its regional influence.
“I’ve never been naive with Iran or thought it would be easy,” Macron said.


Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 22 May 2019
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Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.

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Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.