Explosions hit Iranian tanker, Red Sea oil leak ‘under control’

Iranian oil tanker Sabiti travels through the Red Sea on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in this photo released by SHANA, the official news agency of the Iranian Oil Ministry. (SHANA via AP)
Updated 11 October 2019

Explosions hit Iranian tanker, Red Sea oil leak ‘under control’

  • None of the crew members were injured
  • The tanker turned its tracking devices on Friday morning for the first time since August

DUBAI: Two separate explosions hit an Iranian oil tanker on Friday, which set the ship on fire, Iran’s ISNA news agency has reported.
The vessel is owned by Iran’s state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC), who identified the tanker as the Sabiti. No casualties were reported in the incident.
The company also denied media reports citing it as saying missiles hit the oil tanker.
The Russian foreign ministry also said it was too early to say who is to blame for explosion.
The explosion caused heavy damage to two storerooms aboard the ship and oil was spilling in the Red Sea, state television said.
Iranian media agency IRNA later reported that “the leak of oil has stopped and the situation is under control”.
Tehran said on that Sabiti was still in the Red Sea, “but its route will change,” according to an official from the National Iranian Tanker Company.
“None of the crew members were injured at the explosion ... the situation is under control,” ISNA reported.
The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is aware of media reports on the vessel, but said it does not have any further information, a spokesman said on Friday.
Oil prices surged more than two percent in response to the incident.
Sabiti turned on its tracking devices late Friday morning in the Red Sea, according to data from MarineTraffic.com.
The vessel last turned on its tracking devices in August near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. Iranian tankers routinely turn off their trackers as US sanctions target the sale of Iran’s crude oil.

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

Updated 53 min 35 sec ago

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

  • Military exercise near Libyan border a ‘warning shot,’ experts say

CAIRO: A major Egyptian army exercise near the border with Libya is being viewed by military and strategic experts as a message of deterrence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his backing for the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and supported by militia groups.

The combat exercise, codenamed “Hasm 2020” (Firmness 2020), was carried out by Egypt’s Western Region units together with armed forces formations and special troops, including paratroops and SEAL teams.

The drills included strategic incursions by land forces and land-sea operations by troops in coastal areas of the Western Region near the border with Libya. Other exercises focused on the threat from mercenary or terror groups.

Air defense and artillery maneuvers were also carried out during the exercises, which lasted several days. 

African affairs and national security expert Gen. Mohammed Abdel-Wahed said the Hasm 2020 exercise “carries many internal and external messages of assurance to our brothers in Libya and deterrence to some regional parties.”

The drill “was a message of deterrence to anyone who thinks he can threaten Egyptian national security” and “a simulation of war,” he added.

According to an army statement, the drill’s main phase was attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Zaki, and included live artillery and weapons fire.

Strategic expert Gen. Samir Farag said: “What happened was not an ordinary drill because the forces attacked mercenaries. Our army always fights a regular army. What is different about this drill is training to combat mercenaries. One of the training tasks is to carry out attacks to eliminate mercenaries in cooperation with the air force.”

Farag said the drill “is a message that we will operate on the coasts if they are under threat.”

He said the Egyptian air force succeeded in providing air supplies, “meaning that we have forces capable of going anywhere.”

Farag said that the Western Region had been carefully selected as a location for the exercises.

“We closely monitor any drill carried out by any of our enemies,” he said, adding that Hasm 2020 had been studied and followed up by some countries in the region. 

Egyptian MP and journalist Mustafa Bakry said that “every Egyptian should be proud of their armed forces and their extensive preparation to counter any attack on Egypt or threaten its national security.”

Bakry said that Hasm 2020 sent “a clear message to anyone who attempts to threaten Egypt or its people.”

The Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra are a red line, he said, adding that “Egypt will never leave Libya and its brotherly people as an easy prey to the Turkish invader.”