Saudi Arabia, UAE, Norway tell UN Security Council tanker attacker ‘most likely a state actor’

UAE Navy boats are seen next to the Saudi tanker Al Marzoqah, one of four ships that were targetted by saboteurs off the Port of Fujairah, UAE, on May 13, 2019. (REUTERS/Satish Kumar)
Updated 07 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia, UAE, Norway tell UN Security Council tanker attacker ‘most likely a state actor’

  • The attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers, says report
  • Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations laid the blame squarely on Iran

NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor.
In a document on the briefing to Security Council members, the UAE, joined by Norway and Saudi Arabia, did not say who it believed was behind the attacks and did not mention Iran, which has been accused by the United States of being directly responsible.
The attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers who likely placed limpet mines with a high degree of precision on the vessels under the waterline to incapacitate but not sink them, according to the preliminary findings of the countries’ joint investigation.
“While investigations are still ongoing, these facts are strong indications that the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor,” the three countries said in the document.
They believe it was the work of several teams of operatives, which coordinated the timed detonation of all four explosive charges within less than an hour.
The May 12 attacks targeted two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker, causing no casualties but fueling tensions between the United States and Iran during weeks of escalating rhetoric.
US national security adviser John Bolton said on May 29 that the attacks were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.” Tehran denied the accusations.
A few days earlier in May, at the Pentagon, US Rear Admiral Michael Gilday accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of being directly responsible for the attacks.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, laid the blame squarely on Iran.

“We believe that the responsibility for this action lies on the shoulders of Iran. We have no hesitation in making this statement,” he said.

 

Threat to global energy supplies
US President Donald Trump’s administration, acting on concerns of a potential attack by Iran on US interests, has deployed 1,500 more troops to the Middle East, accelerated the movement of an aircraft carrier strike group to the region and sent bombers and additional Patriot missiles.
The tanker attacks occurred off the UAE emirate of Fujairah, which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital global oil and gas shipping route that separates the Gulf Arab states — allies of the United States — and Iran.
The three countries said the attacks endangered commercial navigation and the security of global energy supplies. They planned to share the findings of their probe with the London-based International Maritime Organization.
In the weeks before the attacks, the Trump administration hardened its policy against Iran by fully reimposing sanctions on Iranian oil exports and designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
Trump reiterated this week that he wants to sit down with Iran’s leaders to negotiate a new deal, a year after Washington pulled out of an accord between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting international sanctions.
Irani Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that Tehran would not be “deceived” by Trump’s offer. 


Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

Updated 7 min 10 sec ago

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

  • ‘This was tragedy waiting to happen’: International Organization for Migrationspokesman Leonard Doyle
  • IOM demands ‘immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants’

GENEVA: A Sudanese man was shot and killed Thursday as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was tragedy waiting to happen,” IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a statement.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” he added.
The UN agency said its staff had been on site at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when as many as 103 migrants returned to shore resisted being sent back to Libyan detention centers.
When several migrants tried to run away from the guards, “armed men began shooting into the air,” and one migrant was hit by a bullet in the stomach, according to the IOM staff accounts.
“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” the agency said.
The man’s death, it said, stood as “a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe.”
The UN and aid groups have warned that rescued migrants returned to Libya face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centers in the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN, some 5,000 migrant women, children and men remain detained in inhumane conditions in Libya — more than 3,000 of them in areas of active conflict.
In June, an airstrike on the Tajoura detention center killed 53 migrants, including six children.
“That facility remains operational to this day, despite persistent calls to end the arbitrary detention of migrants,” IOM said.
“Alternatives to detention must be found,” it said, stressing that the “increasing reports of abuse and human trafficking from detention centers are truly alarming.”
IOM demanded “immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants.”