Iran threatens new ‘confrontation’ in Gulf

This combination of file pictures created on July 22, 2019, shows Iranian soldiers taking part in the "National Persian Gulf day" in the Strait of Hormuz, on April 30, 2019 (up) and the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) receiving a vertical replenishment-at-sea in the Arabian Sea on July 14, 2019. (US Navy photo via AFP)
Updated 25 July 2019

Iran threatens new ‘confrontation’ in Gulf

  • If we can’t export oil no one can, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps chief vows
  • The maritime crisis in the Gulf began when IRCG forces boarded a British tanker last week and diverted it to an Iranian port

JEDDAH: Tehran on Wednesday threatened a “dangerous confrontation” in the Strait of Hormuz amid escalating tension over Iranian state piracy in the Arabian Gulf.

All countries should be able to export their oil through the strait or else no one could, said  Hossein Dehghan, a commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tehran would not negotiate with the US under any circumstances and if Washington decided to go to war then all American bases in the region would be targeted, Dehghan said.

He accused Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, of becoming a US center to strike Iran’s national security.

The maritime crisis in the Gulf began when IRCG forces boarded a British tanker last week and diverted it to an Iranian port, in retaliation for the British seizure in the Mediterranean of an Iranian tanker carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani hinted on Wednesday that the two vessels could be swapped. “We don’t want tensions with some European countries,” Rouhani said.

BACKGROUND

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and top French diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne have visited Tehran in the past month.

If such countries were to “cease the incorrect acts that they have done, including that of Gibraltar, Iran’s response would be appropriate.”

Rouhani also said Iran would be open to talks should there be a “cease-fire” in US economic sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy.

“In this regard some countries are intermediaries, though they themselves say they are not mediators and are just expressing their own views,” he said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and top French diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne have visited Tehran in the past month.

Meanwhile, the Israeli spy agency Shin Bet said security forces had uncovered Iranian intelligence efforts to recruit Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.

“The network was based in Syria under Iranian guidance and was led by a Syrian operative nicknamed Abu Jihad,” it said. 

“It attempted to recruit people via fictitious Facebook profiles and messaging apps.”

The recruits were asked to gather data on sites such as military bases and police stations with a view to providing Iran with potential Israeli targets. Most refused to cooperate, Shin Bet said.


Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

Updated 20 min 24 sec ago

Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities as demanded by the US is not a genuine cease-fire
  • He calls on Ankara to immediately stop military operations,

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: Macron critizes Turkey's aggression in Syria as "madness', bewails NATO inaction

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has bemoaned Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria as “madness” and decried NATO’s inability to react to the assault as a “serious mistake.”

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities is not a genuine cease-fire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syria analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the cease-fire had unclear goals. 

There was no mention of the scope of the area that would be under Turkish control and, despite US Vice President Mike Pence referring to a 20-mile zone, the length of the zone remains ambiguous, she said.

Selim Sazak, a doctoral researcher at Brown University, believed the agreement would be implemented and the YPG would withdraw.

“The agency of the YPG is fairly limited. If the deal collapses because of the YPG, it’s actually all the better for Ankara,” he told Arab News. “What Ankara originally wanted was to take all of the belt into its control and eliminate as many of the YPG forces as possible. Instead, the YPG is withdrawing with a portion of its forces and its territory intact. Had the deal collapsed because of the YPG, Ankara would have reason to push forward, this time with much more legitimacy.”