Iran Guards open new naval base near Strait of Hormuz

This handout photo courtesy of US Navy shows the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) steam in formation during a Strait of Hormuz transit on September 18, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 24 September 2020

Iran Guards open new naval base near Strait of Hormuz

  • The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters was the scene of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have unveiled a new naval base aiming to project “dominance” over the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state media reported, following months of tensions with arch-enemy the United States.
The “Martyr Seyed Majid Rahbar” base lies in the southern province of Hormozgan, near the entrance to the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which a fifth of world oil output passes.
The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters were the scene of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year when ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.
“This base has been built with the purpose of total dominance over the entry and exit of extraterritorial aircraft and naval vessels” at the entrance to the Gulf, Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said on Wednesday.
“This location is one of the country’s most strategic defensive points,” he added, quoted by state TV’s website.
His remarks come days after a US aircraft carrier passed the waterway to enter the Gulf , amid Washington threats to enforce United Nations sanctions on Iran.
The Guards on Wednesday released on their official Sepah News website drone-captured photos reportedly showing the USS Nimitz.
In June last year, Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone over the strait after it allegedly violated the Islamic Republic’s airspace, a claim the US has denied.
The enemies have twice come to the brink of direct confrontation since then.
Washington has blamed Tehran for last year’s mysterious attacks against oil tankers in the nearby Gulf of Oman as well as an attack on Saudi oil facilities, with Iran denying all charges.


France recalls Turkey envoy after Erdogan ‘mental health’ jibe at Macron

Updated 21 min ago

France recalls Turkey envoy after Erdogan ‘mental health’ jibe at Macron

  • France and its NATO ally are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean
  • Ankara has now been particularly incensed by a campaign championed by Macron to protect France’s secular values against radical Islam

ISTANBUL: France on Saturday said it was recalling its envoy to Turkey for consultations after comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed a mental health check-up that Paris condemned as unacceptable.
France and its NATO ally are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
But Ankara has now been particularly incensed by a campaign championed by Macron to protect France’s secular values against radical Islam, a debate given new impetus by the murder this month of a teacher who showed his class a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed.
“What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have mental checks,” Erdogan said in a televised address in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.
“What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?” Erdogan asked.
“Macron needs mental treatment,” Erdogan added, while indicating he did not expect the French leader to win a new mandate in 2022 elections.
In a highly unusual move, a French presidential official said that the French ambassador to Turkey was being recalled from Ankara for consultations and would meet Macron to discuss the situation in the wake of Erdogan’s outburst.
“President Erdogan’s comments are unacceptable. Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand that Erdogan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in every respect,” the official told AFP.
The Elysee official, who asked not to be named, also said that France had noted “the absence of messages of condolence and support” from the Turkish president after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris.
The official also expressed concern over calls by Ankara for a boycott of French goods.
Macron this month described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.
He announced stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques.
But the debate over the role of Islam in France has hit a new intensity after the beheading of Paty, which prosecutors say was carried out by an 18-year-old Chechen who had contact with a jihadist in Syria.
Turkey is a majority Muslim but secular country which is a part of NATO but not the EU, where its membership bid has stalled for decades over a range of disputes.
“You are constantly picking on Erdogan. This will not earn you anything,” said the Turkish leader.
“There will be elections (in France) ... We will see your (Macron’s) fate. I don’t think he has a long way to go. Why? He has not achieved anything for France and he should do for himself.”
The other new rift between the two leaders is over Nagorno-Karabakh — a majority ethnic Armenian breakaway region inside Azerbaijan, which declared independence as the USSR fell, sparking a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.
Turkey is strongly backing Azerbaijan in the conflict but has denied allegations by Macron that Ankara has sent hundreds of Syrian militia fighters to help Azerbaijan.
Erdogan on Saturday accused France — which along with Russia and the United States co-chairs the Minsk Group tasked with resolving the conflict — of “being behind the disasters and the occupations in Azerbaijan.”
He also repeated previous claims that France, which has a strong Armenian community, is arming Yerevan. “You think you will restore peace with the arms you are sending to Armenians. You cannot because you are not honest.”
But the Elysee official said that Erdogan had two months to reply to the demands for a change in stance and that it ends its “dangerous adventures” in the eastern Mediterranean and “irresponsible conduct” over Karabakh.
“Measures need to be taken by the end of the year,” said the official.