US-Iran envoy says Bahrain to host Gulf maritime security conference

1 / 2
The Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry conducting drills in the Arabian Sea. (US Navy/AFP)
2 / 2
Updated 18 July 2019

US-Iran envoy says Bahrain to host Gulf maritime security conference

  • Brian Hook, the special envoy to Iran, said 65 countries would attend the event
  • Washington said last week it was seeking partners for a military coalition to protect the busy shipping lanes off Iran and Yemen

LONDON: The US said Bahrain will host a maritime security conference to ensure freedom of navigation in the region’s waters. 

The comments come after Washington said last week it was seeking partners for a military coalition to protect the busy shipping lanes off Iran and Yemen.

Brian Hook, the special envoy to Iran, said 65 countries would attend the event, Al-Arabiya reported, which comes amid a heightened threat for shipping in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula.

Several oil tankers have been attacked since May near the Strait of Hormuz - the narrow passage between the Arabian Sea and the Arabian Gulf, which serves as one of the world’s main conduits for crude oil. Iran has been blamed for the attacks, which many view as a calculated response to increased economic and military pressure from the US over Tehran’s nuclear program and destabilizing activities in the Middle East.

Tensions increased further when British forces helped seize an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar, which London said was attempting to deliver oil to Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime.

Iran threatened to retaliate and last week a British warship had to aid a UK-owned tanker when Iranian vessels tried to block the ship as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz.

On Wednesday the UK's defense ministry said the reason it was deploying a third warship to the Gulf was “to protect UK interests and ensure freedom of navigation.” 

Meanwhile, mystery continued to surround a UAE-based taker, which stopped transmitting tracking data late on Saturday after passing through the Strait of Hormuz and which the US said is now located in Iranian waters.

Iran said late Tuesday that it towed a ship into its waters after the ship issued a distress call. 

A US official said the Panamanian-flagged Riah was in Iranian territorial waters, but it was not clear whether that was because Iran had seized it or rescued it.

*With Reuters


Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

Updated 14 November 2019

Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

DHAKA: One hundred and seventy-one Bangladeshi migrants are waiting to be repatriated from two detention centers in Libya after being rescued from the Mediterranean coast on Oct. 30 as they tried to make their way into Europe, officials told Arab News on Wednesday. 

In all, 200 migrants were rescued during the operation.

“The registration process of all the Bangladeshi migrants has been completed and we are expecting to start the repatriation by the end of November,” ASM Ashraful Islam, councilor at the Bangladesh embassy in Libya, said.

He added that, due to the ongoing war in Libya, airports in Tripoli remain non-operational. The Bangladeshi migrants will fly from Misrata airport, 300 kilometers away.

“There are frequent incidents of bombardment and long-range missile strikes (at Tripoli airport),” Islam explained. He said no international airline was currently willing to fly from Libya to Bangladesh, so the embassy intends to charter a flight to repatriate the migrants.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will bear the expenses for the rescued Bangladeshis, who are currently being held at detention centers in Zanzur and Abu Salim, he said, adding, “Bangladesh mission staffers in Tripoli are in constant touch with the returnees and providing necessary food and other assistance for them.”

In recent years, human traffickers have used Libya as a gateway through which to send illegal migrants to Italy and other European countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency — Frontex — around 30,000 Bangladeshi migrants have been arrested while trying to enter Europe in the last decade. The organization said that, in recent years, Bangladesh is one of the countries from which the most illegal migrants have tried to enter Europe. The IOM has facilitated the repatriation of Bangladeshi citizens from Libya in the past — 924 in 2017, 307 in 2016, and 521 in 2015.

“Among unemployed Bangladeshi fortune seekers, there is a (desire) to migrate to Europe by any means, and human-trafficking syndicates at home and abroad (have grabbed) this opportunity,” Shariful Hasan, head of the migration program at the Bangladesh-based development organization BRAC, told Arab News. “There needs to be an integrated effort by all concerned countries, with the support of Interpol, to curb this human trafficking.”