80 migrants rescued off Libya coast

Crew members of the ‘Ocean Viking’ rescue ship, operated by French NGOs SOS Mediterranee and MSF, arrive with rescued migrants on board of a ‘rhib,’ before boarding the rescue vessel on Saturday, following their second rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2019

80 migrants rescued off Libya coast

  • Norway’s minister of justice and immigration, Joran Kallmyr, said on public television that the migrants should be “transported back to Africa, either to Tunisia or Libya”

ON BOARD THE OCEAN VIKING: The Ocean Viking charity ship rescued more than 80 migrants off the coast of Libya on Saturday, according to Doctors without Borders (MSF), which operates the vessel along with the French charity SOS Mediterranee.
The migrants, mainly Sudanese men and adolescents, were picked up after the Ocean Viking rescued 85 people including four children on Friday. The white rubber dinghy was spotted after a plane was seen repeatedly flying over it, MSF mission head Jay Berger said.
European forces regularly patrol the central Mediterranean looking for boats leaving the Libyan coast, particularly during mild weather.
The Ocean Viking sailed toward the area where the plane seemed to be focusing on and found the dinghy, Berger said.
“But the plane never tried to communicate with us,” he added.
Some 170 migrants, all from sub-Saharan Africa, are now on board the Ocean Viking, which left Marseille on Sunday. An AFP journalist is also on board.

Political crisis
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has taken a hard line against migrants and this week sparked a political crisis by pulling his support from the country’s governing coalition, has sent a warning to Oslo, where the rescue ship is registered.
“Italy is not legally bound, nor disposed to taken in clandestine, unidentified migrants from on board the Ocean Viking,” he wrote.

HIGHLIGHT

The migrants, mainly Sudanese men and adolescents, were picked up after the Ocean Viking rescued 85 people including four children on Friday.

He has said the same about more than 100 migrants on Spanish charity Proactiva’s Open Arms ship, which Hollywood star Richard Gere boarded on Friday.
Norway’s minister of justice and immigration, Joran Kallmyr, said on public television that the migrants should be “transported back to Africa, either to Tunisia or Libya.”
“They should not be sent to Europe because then this action will be an extension of the refugee route instead of a rescue operation,” Kallmyr said.
Gere, who boarded the Open Arms on Friday, said he had just arrived from the nearby Italian island of Lampedusa.
“We brought as much water and as much food as we possibly can, for everybody on board,” he said.
“Everyone is doing OK now but they were on two boats on the ocean. One of the boats was turned back by the Libyan navy. We don’t know what happened to them.
“The most important thing for these people here is to be able to get to a free port, to be able to get off the boat, to start a new life for themselves.”
Salvini also commented on the American movie star saying he hopes Gere “gets a bit of a suntan.”

 


Ankara accuses Tehran of betrayal: Is the alliance of convenience collapsing? 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold talks on Syrian crisis at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 40 min 46 sec ago

Ankara accuses Tehran of betrayal: Is the alliance of convenience collapsing? 

  • Erdogan says Iran betraying the consensus between the two countries

ANKARA: Recent developments on the ground in Syria may be proof of the demise of the already fragile partnership between Turkey and Iran, the two guarantor states of the Astana process alongside with Russia. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi announced that Iran rejected any move from Turkey to establish military posts inside Syria, and emphasized that the integrity of Tehran’s key regional ally should be respected.
Prior to departing for Sochi, to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I condemn Iran’s stance on Operation Peace Spring. Unfortunately, there are splintering voices rising from Iran. This situation disturbs my colleagues and myself.”
Erdogan also accused Iran of betraying the consensus between the two countries, after Tehran condemned Turkey’s ongoing operation in northern Syria against Syrian Kurdish forces and demanded “an immediate stop to the attacks and the exit of the Turkish military from Syrian territory.”
The statements are considered by experts another sign that the alliance of convenience between the two regional competitors is ending, with their regional interests beginning to conflict.
Iran has always been a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has been keen to engage Syrian Kurds, Assad’s government and Turkey in dialogue following Ankara’s offensive into northern Syria, within the framework of the Adana Agreement as a legal framework to establish security along the border.
Tehran also held surprise military drills near the Turkish border on the same day Turkey launched its operation into northern Syria.
Dr. Michael Tanchum, senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies, said: “With the removal of US troops in northern Syria, which both Ankara and Tehran opposed for different reasons, Turkey and Iran’s conflicting strategic interests are now naturally coming to the forefront.”
Moreover, according to Tanchum, Iran has already fought elements of the paramilitary forces now that are now partnering with Turkey.
“Tehran is distressed that such elements are being empowered. While Iran needs Turkish cooperation in the face crippling US sanctions, Iran needs Russia’s cooperation much more,” he told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi says Iran rejected any move from Turkey to establish military posts inside Syria, and emphasized that the integrity of Tehran’s key regional ally should be respected.

• Iran has already fought the elements of the paramilitary forces that are now partnering with Turkey.

However, Tanchum thinks that the idea Tehran would triangulate between Ankara and Moscow as a way of preserving its own position in Syria seems quite unlikely.
“If Iran has to choose between Turkey and Russia in Syria, it will choose Russia. In this sense, the previous dynamics of the Astana process are no longer in place,” he said.
However, Dr. Bilgehan Alagoz, lecturer at Istanbul Marmara University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, said that rumors about the death of the Iranian-Turkish alliance in Syria may be a bit exaggerated, at least for now.
For Alagoz, Iran is hesitant about cooperation between Turkey and the US, which has the possibility of creating a confrontation against Iran’s interests in Syria.
“On the other hand, Iran is uncomfortable with the US military presence in Syria. Therefore, Iran is facing a dilemma,” she told Arab News.
According to Alagoz, at this point Iran needs to pursue diplomacy with both Turkey and Russia.
“Thus, I do not think that the Iranian statements against Turkey will continue for a long time,” she added.
With the civil war now in its eighth year in Syria, Assad’s forces have gradually gained control of strategic cities in northwestern Idlib province, like Khan Sheikhoun, with Russian and Iranian support. The Syrian regime also attacked Turkish military observation posts in the region over the summer.
In the meantime, in a surprise decision on Monday evening, Turkey appointed former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla, who was sentenced to prison in the US over Iranian sanctions breaches, as the new CEO of the Istanbul Stock Exchange.