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.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 48 min 48 sec ago

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.