Saudi Arabia urges international action over Iran piracy

The cabinet considers Iranian seizure of British tanker a violation of international law. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Saudi Arabia urges international action over Iran piracy

  • The Saudi remarks came after Britain called on Monday for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping
  • Britain has called Iran's tanker seizure an act of “state piracy”

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday called for international action to halt Iranian state piracy targeting commercial shipping in the Arabian Gulf.

“Any disruption of the freedom of international maritime traffic is a violation of international law and the international community must do what is necessary to reject it and deter it,” the Saudi Cabinet said.

The Saudi statement follows Iran’s seizure last week of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces illegally boarded the Stena Impero and ordered it to divert to an Iranian port.

The tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.

Britain has called the seizure an act of “state piracy.”

Iran continued to issue threats on Tuesday, warning that it kept a watch on all shipping in the Gulf.

“We observe all enemy ships, particularly America, point-by-point from their origin until the moment they enter the region,” said Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, head of Iran’s navy. Drones recorded images, he said. 

“We have complete images and a large archive of the daily and moment-by-moment traffic of the coalition forces and America.”

France, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark support British plans for a European-led naval mission to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, their EU diplomats said on Tuesday. Spain, Sweden, Poland and Germany also showed interest.

The UK said the mission could be run by a joint Franco-British command and would not directly involve the EU, NATO or the US.

Iraq, which counts its bigger neighbor Iran and the US as its main allies, said on Tuesday Tehran had reassured it that there would be freedom of international maritime navigation in the Gulf.

Iran communicated this to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi during a visit by him to Tehran on Monday, the Iraqi oil ministry said in a statement.

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (gave) reassurances to the Iraqi delegation ... around guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz and respect for international law guaranteeing that,” the statement said.

Iraq has sought a mediation role to calm US-Iran tension in the region, fearing that any violent escalation between Washington and the Islamic Republic could play out on Iraqi soil, where both Iran-backed militias and US forces operate in close proximity.


Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

Updated 25 August 2019

Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

TAIF: It is not unusual for musicians to aim for the stars, but organizers of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif gave the Ukrainian concert pianist Olina Lukashu a head start.

Visitors to the opening entertainment events at King Faisal Garden were treated to the sight and sound of Lukashu performing 5 meters in the air, dressed in a long white gown that reached down to the ground.

“It was decided to put her at the entrance of the garden, all dressed in white to welcome the visitors,” festival spokesman Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab News.

“It is a new idea that was greatly enjoyed by visitors, who admired her rendition of various musical pieces.”

Among the 25 events taking place in conjunction with this year’s festival is a circus presented by five Latin American countries, Al-Anzi said. There is also a free childcare service, mobile food courts, international restaurants and a live broadcasting studio.  “Visitors will be able to ride camels inside the park, and enjoy the handicrafts on display by various artisans,” he said.

Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, told Arab News the Taif Season was important in terms of generating employment opportunities for young Saudis, and creating tourist projects. “All the events are full of visitors,” he said.

He said 2,000 jobs were provided during the Taif Season, and those who took up the opportunities gained skills and knowledge about the requirements of an audience.

“Saudi culture has changed, and Saudis have become more aware of global challenges and requirements, and the expectations of tourists and other consumers,” he said. “Taif Season has set a high standard.”