Iran linked to rocket attack on US oil targets in southern Iraq

An Iraqi soldier stands next to a military vehicle at the entry of Zubair oilfield after a rocket struck the site of residential and operations headquarters of several oil companies at Burjesia area, in Basra, Iraq, on June 19, 2019. (REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani)
Updated 20 June 2019

Iran linked to rocket attack on US oil targets in southern Iraq

  • Fourth oil-related terrorist assault since Tehran’s threat to halt exports from Gulf
  • Three people were injured in Wednesday’s incident

BAGHDAD, Iraq:  Iran was accused of sowing further chaos on Wednesday when a rocket hit a site near Basra in southern Iraq used by US and other oil companies.

The attack came hours after three rockets landed in the Rumailah oil field in Basra, near a camp used by the US oil services company Baker Hughes.

It was the fourth oil-related terrorist attack since Tehran threatened to halt exports from the Arabian Gulf in response to US sanctions aimed at reducing Iran’s oil sales to zero.

Three people were injured in Wednesday’s incident, when a short-range Katyusha rocket hit a drilling site in the Burjesiya area near Basra, an operational area for oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Eni of Italy and the US giant ExxonMobil.

The finger of blame was immediately pointed at Iran-backed armed groups in the area, particularly Kata’ib Hezbollah. “They are equipped with this type of rocket, which is ubiquitous among the Iranian-supported militias,” security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik told Arab News.

TIMELINE OF TERROR

● July 21, 2018 Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says if Iran’s oil sales are impeded by sanctions, ‘no other country in the region will export oil either.’

● April 21, 2019 US says it will end sanctions exemptions allowing some countries to buy Iranian oil, with the aim of reducing its exports to zero.

● May 12 Four tankers — two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian — are sabotaged with explosive mines off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE. ● May 14 Drone attacks on two oil pumping stations temporarily shut down pipeline from eastern Saudi Arabia to Yanbu port on the Red Sea.

● June 13 Two tankers, one Japanese and one Norwegian, are attacked in the Gulf of Oman, leaving one ablaze and both adrift.

● June 19 Rocket attack targets foreign oil installations near Basra in southern Iraq, where Iran-backed militias are active.

“The Islamic Republican Guard Corps has created a supply network for local militias that helped to build up a weapons stock around Basra. It is easily fed by new supplies from Iran because of the porous nature of the border between the two, both on land and at sea,” said Karasik, senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC.

An Iraqi security source also blamed Iran-backed militias. “The team that launched the rocket is made up of more than one group and were well trained in missile launching,” he said.

The rocket was fired from farmland about 4 km away and landed 100 meters from part of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon. Company staff were flown to Dubai.

Abbas Maher, mayor of the nearby town of Zubair, said he believed Iran-backed groups had specifically targeted Exxon to “send a message” to the US.

“We cannot separate this from regional developments, meaning the US-Iranian conflict,” he said. “These incidents have political objectives.”

Meanwhile US investigators presented more evidence that Iran was behind last week’s tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman.

“The limpet mine used in the attack … bears a striking resemblance to Iranian mines already publicly displayed in Iranian military parades,” said US Navy Commander Sean Kido.


Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Hosni Mubarak

Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

Egypt holds full-honors military funeral for Hosni Mubarak

  • The Republican Guard carried Mubarak’s casket wrapped in the Egyptian flag
  • To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt’s modern history

CAIRO: Egypt was holding a full-honors military funeral Wednesday for the country’s former autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, who was for decades the face of stability in the Middle East but who was ousted from power in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that swept much of the region.
A few dozen Mubarak supporters, clad in black and carrying posters of the former president, had gathered since morning hours at a mosque complex in an eastern New Cairo neighborhood, where Mubarak’s body was brought for the funeral service.
The Republican Guard carried Mubarak’s casket wrapped in the Egyptian flag.
The 91-year-old Mubarak died on Tuesday at a Cairo military hospital from heart and kidney complications, according to medical documents obtained by The Associated Press. He was admitted to hospital on Jan. 21 with intestinal obstruction and underwent surgery, after which he was treated in intensive care.
To the outside world, Mubarak the strongman symbolized so much of Egypt’s modern history but his rule of nearly 30 years ended after hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, forcing him to step down.

Perhaps ironically, Mubarak’s funeral service was held at the Tantawi Mosque in eastern Cairo, named for now retired Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ran Egypt following Mubarak’s ouster and until the election of Islamist President Muhammed Morsi in 2012.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi attended the service, which was to be followed later in the day by burial at the cemetery in Heliopolis, an upscale Cairo district that was Mubarak’s home for most of his rule and where he lived until his death.
On Tuesday, El-Sisi extended condolences to the former president’s family, including his widow Suzanne and two sons, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal.
In a statement, El-Sisi praised Mubarak’s service during the 1973 war with Israel but made no mention of his rule as president of the most populous Arab state. Three days of national mourning were to begin Wednesday, El-Sisi announced.
Pro-government media paid tribute to Mubarak, focusing on his role in the 1973 war with Israel when Mubarak, a pilot by training, commanded Egypt’s air force.
“Through his military and political career, Mubarak made undeniable achievements and sacrifices,” the state-run Al-Aharm newspaper eulogized Mubarak in its editorial Wednesday.
Born in May 1928, Mubarak was vice president on Oct. 6, 1981, when his mentor, President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by Islamic extremists while reviewing a military parade. Seated next to Sadat, Mubarak escaped with a minor hand injury as gunmen sprayed the reviewing stand with bullets. Eight days later, the brawny former air force commander was sworn in as president, promising continuity and order.
Mubarak’s rule was marked by a close alliance with the US in the fight against Islamic militancy and assisting regional peace efforts. Many older Egyptians, who had long considered him invincible, were stunned by the images of Mubarak on a gurney bed being taken to court for sessions of his trial in Cairo following his ouster.
Mubarak’s overthrow plunged Egypt into years of chaos and uncertainty, and set up a power struggle between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood group that he had long outlawed. Some two and a half years after Mubarak’s ouster, El-Sisi led the military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mursi, and rolled back freedoms gained in the 2011 uprising.
In June 2012, Mubarak and his security chief were sentenced to life in prison for failing to prevent the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising. Both appealed the verdict and a higher court later cleared them in 2014.
The following year, Mubarak and his sons were sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges during a retrial. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while Mubarak walked free in 2017.