Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship
A screengrab shows German soldiers searching the crew of a Turkish cargo ship on November 23, 2020, in the eastern Mediterranean. (AFP)
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Updated 23 November 2020

Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship
  • The Turkish foreign ministry said Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and searched the Roseline A commercial vessel without permission off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus peninsula
  • Footage filmed by the vessel’s crew and aired on Turkish television showed a quarrel between crew members and armed German soldiers who landed on the ship from a helicopter

ISTANBUL: Turkey accused the German navy on Monday of conducting an “unauthorized” search on a Turkish-flagged cargo vessel in a bid to enforce a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
But the European Union’s Operation Irini — tasked with halting arms shipments to the strife-torn north African country — said it had made a “good faith” effort to get Turkey’s consent for the inspection and aborted it as soon as Ankara made its objections clear.
The Turkish foreign ministry said Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and searched the Roseline A commercial vessel without permission on Sunday evening off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus peninsula.
Footage filmed by the vessel’s crew and aired repeatedly on Turkish television showed a quarrel between crew members and armed German soldiers who landed on the ship from a helicopter.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the vessel was carrying paint and humanitarian supplies headed to the Libyan port of Misrata.
“This intervention was carried out with the consent of neither our country as the flag state nor the ship’s captain,” the Turkish ministry said.
“I am strongly condemning this unlawful intervention,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay added.
Ankara on Monday summoned the EU and Italian ambassadors as well as the German embassy’s charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry, conveying a diplomatic note protesting the “unauthorized” inspection, the foreign ministry said.
The action was “against international law,” the ministry said in the note, adding that Turkey reserved its right to compensation.
But both the operation’s European command and officials in Berlin said Turkey raised its objections only after the German soldiers had boarded the vessel.
“Everything went exactly according to protocol,” a German foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
Operation Irini said in statement that it had “made good faith efforts to seek (Turkey’s) consent.”
“When (Turkey) made it clear that it denied the permission to inspect the vessel, Operation Irini suspended the activities during which no evidence of illicit material was found,” it said.
Operation Irini’s official website says the mission reserves the right to board ships without permission when conducting so-called “friendly approaches.”
Libya has endured almost a decade of violence since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Turkey backs the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya and views the EU mission as biased in favor of the eastern command — backed by the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia and France.
The warring sides agreed a cease-fire deal last month that paves the way for national elections on December 24.
But the process remains fragile and four EU powers involved in efforts to end the conflict issued a joint statement Monday threatening sanctions against “all Libyan and international parties” standing in the way of peace.
Operation Irini said the aborted inspection of the Turkish vessel was the fifth since the mission was officially launched on March 31.
Turkey last sparred with EU powers over inspections when a French frigate under NATO command sought in June to search a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship.
Paris then complained that one of its ships was subjected to radar targeting by Turkish frigates while trying to inspect the cargo.
Ankara denied the charge.


Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge
Updated 4 min 18 sec ago

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge
  • Twitter has yet to act on the Persian-language tweet by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority
  • Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei saying US and UK-made vaccines were unreliable
DUBAI: The Twitter account of Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday carried the image of a golfer resembling former President Donald Trump apparently being targeted by a drone, vowing revenge over the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone attack.
The post carried the text of remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in December, in which he said “Revenge is certain,” renewing a vow of vengeance ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of top military commander General Qassem Soleimani in the attack in Iraq.
“Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” Khamenei tweeted on December 16, without naming Trump, who had ordered the strike.
Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei in which he said US and British-made vaccines were unreliable and may be intended to “contaminate other nations.” The platform said the tweet violated its rules against misinformation.
There was no apparent immediate action by Twitter over the Persian-language tweet on Friday by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority.
Tensions rapidly grew between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump exited a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Iran called for action and “not just words” shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as US president on Wednesday. Biden has said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.