No docking request from Iran tanker, says Lebanon

The Adrian Darya ship was held for weeks off Gibraltar after it was seized by authorities on suspicion of violating EU sanctions on oil sales to Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 August 2019

No docking request from Iran tanker, says Lebanon

  • Iranian tanker bouncing around the Mediterranean amid US warnings

BEIRUT: Lebanon dismissed Turkish claims on Friday that it would receive the Adrian Darya, an Iranian tanker which has been bouncing around the Mediterranean amid US warnings over its valuable oil cargo.

Every change of tack from the huge vessel, with its cargo of 2.1 barrels worth around $140 million, has sparked intense speculation.

It was detained for six weeks by the British territory of Gibraltar and released despite a US attempt to keep it detained on suspicion that its cargo was bound for Syria.

While Iran has denied selling the oil to its Damascus ally, experts said the likely scenario was for a ship-to-ship transfer, with a Syrian port as the final destination.

Maritime traffic monitors had shown that the Adrian Darya’s latest listed destinations, which are not necessarily the next approved port of call, were in Turkey.

After tracking sites showed Mersin as its destination, it then switched to Iskenderun, prompting a reaction from Turkey’s foreign minister Friday.

“This tanker is not heading actually to Iskenderun (in Turkey), this tanker is heading to Lebanon,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit to Oslo.

Lebanon swiftly dismissed the scenario, stressing that it never buys crude oil because it simply does not have refineries.

“The Energy Ministry does not buy crude oil from any country and Lebanon does not own a crude oil refinery,” Energy Minister Nada Boustani said in a statement. She said Lebanon had not received any docking request from the tanker.

“There is also no request for the Adrian Darya 1 oil tanker to enter Lebanon,” Boustani said.

According to maritime traffic monitoring websites, the huge tanker is currently just west of the island nation of Cyprus.

Iran said Monday it had “sold the oil” aboard the tanker and that the owner will decide the destination.

It did not identify the buyer or say whether the oil had been sold before or after the tanker’s detention in the Strait of Gibraltar, on Spain’s southern tip.

The ship was seized by Gibraltar police and British special forces on July 4 and held for six weeks on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

But Iran denied the charge and said it could not name the actual destination due to US sanctions on its oil sales. In July, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps impounded a British-flagged tanker in strategic Gulf waters. 

Britain called it a tit-for-tat move but Tehran denied any connection.

A court in the British territory ordered the tanker’s release on Aug. 15 despite a last-minute legal bid by the US to have it detained.

The Adrian Darya 1 set sail for the eastern Mediterranean three days after it was released.

According to maritime traffic monitoring websites, the huge tanker has changed direction multiple times, following no apparent logic.

The specialized TankerTrackers social media account noted Friday after the vessel listed Iskenderun as its destination that little could be read into it.

“Consider this just a record update rather than anything substantial. We believe a transfer is still a few days away. Turkey will not import this oil,” it said.

It earlier described it as “aimlessly moseying around the Med.”

Tensions between arch-enemies Iran and the US have soared ever since Washington stepped up its campaign of “maximum pressure” against Tehran and reimposed sanctions after leaving the landmark 2015 nuclear deal last year.

Syria, which has ports on the Mediterranean, is also under a raft of US and European sanctions over its eight-year-old conflict.

Russia, which together with Iran, is Damascus’s key ally in the conflict announced Friday that a cease-fire would come into force in the northwestern region of Idlib.

Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

Updated 41 min 21 sec ago

Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

  • Police raids in Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements”
  • Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group

CAIRO: Nine suspected extremists including a commander have been killed in shootouts with police in suburbs of the Egyptian capital, the interior ministry said Wednesday.
Police raids to the east and south of Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements,” it said in a statement.
Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group, it added.
The Liwa Al-Thawra movement appeared in 2016 and has since claimed deadly attacks against the police and the Egyptian army.
Almost nine years after the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, security remains a chief concern in Egypt.
Hundreds of security personnel have died in an escalation of attacks since the military overthrow of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.
That ouster was led by then army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who became president after 2014 polls and secured re-election last year with an official 97 percent of the vote.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against extremists, focused mainly on North Sinai, where the Daesh extremist group has a significant presence.
The authorities say some 650 suspected extremists and around 50 soldiers have been killed since.