UK calls for broad support to tackle Gulf shipping threats

Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrol around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero as it's anchored off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 August 2019

UK calls for broad support to tackle Gulf shipping threats

  • Last month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the strait, the Gulf’s outlet to the open seas,
  • Britain joined a US-led mission to escort merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz at the start of August but Germany and France declined to take part

LONDON: British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab will call for more international support to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz when he meets his French and German counterparts later on Friday for talks about Iran.
Last month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the strait, the Gulf’s outlet to the open seas, in apparent retaliation for Britain’s seizure in Gibraltar of an Iranian ship accused of violating European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.
Britain joined a US-led mission to escort merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz at the start of August but Germany and France declined to take part amid fears that it could increase the chance of open conflict with Iran.
“We...need the broadest international support possible to tackle the threats to international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz,” Raab said in a statement before he attends a meeting of European foreign ministers in Helsinki.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a possible separate European maritime defense operation would be discussed in Helsinki, though her foreign minister Heiko Maas previously acknowledged it would be slow to get off the ground.
French defense minister Florence Parly told AFP on Thursday that she would back an EU-led “dissuasive presence.”
Last week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said international waterways would be less secure if his country’s oil exports faced complete sanctions.
Raab reiterated Britain’s commitment, alongside Germany and France, to a 2015 nuclear deal that US President Donald Trump pulled out of last year, reimposing sanctions on Iran.
“The nuclear deal is the only deal on the table that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and we will continue working together to encourage Iran to uphold the agreement in full,” Raab said.
The 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers, reached under former US President Barack Obama, aimed to curb Iran’s disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran.
Trump said on Monday at a G7 summit in Biarritz, France, that he might be willing to meet Rouhani in the coming weeks to end confrontation over the deal.


Egypt urges decisive action against states backing ‘terror’

Updated 54 min 54 sec ago

Egypt urges decisive action against states backing ‘terror’

  • El-Sisi was apparently referring to Turkey and Qatar
  • Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula

CAIRO: Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.
The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.
Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.
The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the US, Britain and Canada.
The Sahel region is home to Al-Qaeda and Daesh-linked militants. El-Sisi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.
Egypt has for years been battling a Daesh-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Mursi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.
Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.
Since Mursi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.
El-Sisi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi. He did not elaborate.
He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”
El-Sisi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.
El-Sisi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.
Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.
Haftar has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital. He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.