Israel ‘ready to attack Iran’ after fatal strike on ship

The comments by Benny Gantz (pictured) come as Israel meanwhile lobbies countries for action at the United Nations over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. (Reuters/File Photo)
The comments by Benny Gantz (pictured) come as Israel meanwhile lobbies countries for action at the United Nations over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 06 August 2021

Israel ‘ready to attack Iran’ after fatal strike on ship

Israel ‘ready to attack Iran’ after fatal strike on ship
  • World powers must put an end to Iranian menace to safeguard sea routes: Expert

JEDDAH: Israel’s defense minister warned on Thursday that his country is prepared to strike Iran, issuing the threat after a fatal drone strike on an oil tanker at sea that his nation blamed on Tehran.

The comments by Benny Gantz come as Israel lobbies countries for action at the UN over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. The tanker, struck off Oman in the Arabian Sea, is managed by a firm owned by an Israeli billionaire.

The US and the UK also blamed Iran for the attack. Iran, which along with its regional militia allies has launched similar drone attacks, has denied being involved.

Speaking to the news website Ynet, Gantz responded to whether Israel was prepared to attack Iran with a blunt “yes.”

“We are at a point where we need to take military action against Iran,” Gantz said. “The world needs to take action against Iran now.”

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, told Arab News that Iran always plays the role of the victim. He said unless the international community agrees to put an end to Iran’s aggression and threats, “the regime will continue to threaten the most important sea navigation routes used by oil tankers.”

Al-Shehri said he expects the Israeli response to the ship attack to be limited, but “painful” for Iran.

“Today, there will be a closed session at the UN Security Council, and that means Iran will face the consequences of its heinous act.

“The whole world is watching the aggressive behavior of the Iranian regime in the region but is sorrowfully doing nothing in return. There has been no concrete attempt to stop Tehran from destabilizing peace and security in the region, or to stop its nuclear program,” he said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described Gantz’s threat as “another brazen violation of Int’l law” and “malign behavior.” He tweeted: “We state this clearly: ANY foolish act against Iran will be met with a DECISIVE response. Don’t test us.”

The latest provocation occurred earlier this week, when hijackers stormed an asphalt tanker off the coast of the UAE in the Gulf of Oman, briefly seizing the vessel before departing on Wednesday.

The US Central Command, known as CENTCOM, put the blame squarely on Iran. “We are troubled by the temporary forcible seizure of the M/V Asphalt Princess by Iranian gunmen,” said US Air Force Maj Nicole Ferrara, a CENTCOM spokesman. “We are looking into the incident, but do not have an understanding of what the Iranians were doing at this time, or why they would impede the transit of this legitimate commercial vessel.”


Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit

Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit
Updated 13 sec ago

Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit

Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit
  • El-Sisi’s announcement came during his virtual participation in the Heads of State and Government on Climate meeting

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has announced Egypt’s aspiration to host the UN Climate Change Summit in 2022 on behalf of Africa. Britain will host this year’s summit in Glasgow in November.

El-Sisi’s announcement came during his virtual participation in the Heads of State and Government on Climate meeting on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

During the meeting, he stressed the importance of developed countries shouldering their responsibilities within the framework of the Paris Agreement and the UN Convention on Climate Change.

He also stressed the need to deal seriously with any unilateral measures that contribute to exacerbating the consequences of climate change, including construction of dams on international rivers without agreement with downstream countries.


El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis

El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis
Updated 1 min 49 sec ago

El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis

El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi affirmed his country’s support all efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said Yemen’s Defense Minister Muhammad Ali Al-Maqdashi conveyed the greetings of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to El-Sisi and praised bilateral cooperation in all fields, especially military and security.

Radi added that El-Sisi asked to convey his greetings to Hadi and stressed the need for a solution that achieves Yemeni stability and unity, meets its people’s aspirations and ends foreign interference in the country.

El-Sisi said Egypt will spare no effort to assist Yemen in achieving these goals.


Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials

Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials
Updated 21 min 53 sec ago

Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials

Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials
  • Government claims the coup plotters were linked to the ousted Al-Bashir regime

Sudanese authorities reported a coup attempt on Tuesday by a group of soldiers but said the attempt failed and that the military remains in control.

The development underscored the fragility of Sudan’s path to democracy, more than two years after the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir amid a public uprising against his three-decade rule.

Sudan’s state-run television called on the public “to counter” the coup attempt but did not provide further details.

“All is under control. The revolution is victorious,” Mohammed Al-Fiky Suliman, a member of the ruling military-civilian council, wrote on Facebook. He also called on the Sudanese to protect the transition.

The government claimed the coup plotters were linked to the ousted Al-Bashir regime.

A military official said an unspecified number of troops from the armored corps were behind the attempt and that they tried to take over several government institutions but were stopped in their tracks. He said they had aimed to seize the military headquarters and the state television.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said over three dozen troops, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested. He did not provide further details, saying that a military statement would be released shorty.

The state-run SUNA news agency quoted Brig. Al-Tahir Abu Hajja, a media consultant for the military’s chief, as saying that the armed forces “thwarted the attempted coup and that all is completely under control.”

The agency said all troops taking part in the attempt were detained and that investigations have started. It did not provide further details.

Footage circulated online showing troops and armored vehicles deployed to main roads and intersections in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Security was also boosted at the military headquarters and other government buildings in the city.

Mohammed Hassan Al-Taishi, a member of the sovereign council, called the attempt a “foolish and bad choice.”

“The option of military coups has left us only a failed and weak country,” he wrote on Twitter. “The path toward democratic transition and securing the country’s political future and unity remains one option.”

Later, in a statement read on the state-run TV, Culture and Information Minister Hamza Baloul said security forces have arrested civilian and military leaders of the coup attempt, and that they have been interrogated after the military managed to get the armored corps camp south of Khartoum under control.

Baloul, who also the government spokesman, said authorities were chasing others “from the remnants” of Al-Bashir’s regime who were suspects in orchestrated the attempted coup. He did not give further details.

Sudan has been on a fragile path to democratic rule since the military’s ouster of Al-Bashir in April 2019, following four months of mass protests. The country is now ruled by a joint civilian and military government.

The transitional government has been under increasing pressure to end wars with rebel groups as it seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promised.


Former Egyptian defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi dies at 85

Former Egyptian defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi dies at 85
Updated 21 September 2021

Former Egyptian defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi dies at 85

Former Egyptian defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi dies at 85
  • Tantawi has participated in most of Egypt’s wars, including the wars of 1956 and 1967, the War of Attrition, and the 1973 October war

DUBAI: Former Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi has died on Tuesday aged 85 after suffering from health problems for the past three months, local daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Tantawi has participated in most of Egypt’s wars, including the wars of 1956 and 1967, the War of Attrition, and the 1973 October war.

He further assumed the presidency of Egypt in his capacity as head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after the resignation of former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11 of 2011.


French FM applauds Middle East diplomacy, warns of Iranian transgressions

French FM applauds Middle East diplomacy, warns of Iranian transgressions
Updated 21 September 2021

French FM applauds Middle East diplomacy, warns of Iranian transgressions

French FM applauds Middle East diplomacy, warns of Iranian transgressions
  • Le Drian lauds August’s Baghdad Convention but warns Iran has repeatedly breached its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA
  • Minister laments ‘breach of trust’ by the UK and US over scuppering of a French submarine deal with Australia

NEW YORK: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has celebrated progress in diplomacy in the Middle East and promised that France will continue to take an active role in ensuring the region remains stable.

In a wide-ranging press conference held on Monday and attended by Arab News, Le Drian also lamented the recent “breach of trust” by the UK and US over the sale of submarines to Australia.

France had originally been slated to supply submarines to Australia as part of that deal, but Canberra did a U-turn in favor of an agreement with the US and UK, in what some have called an embarrassment for the French.

“In the Middle East, stability and security shall be the heart of our priorities. These require a regional dialogue, including in the unprecedented format of the Baghdad Conference on Aug. 28,” Le Drian said.

The Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership brought together many of the key powers in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Qatar, and Iran for dialogue aimed at easing security tensions in the region. France also attended the summit and has taken an active role in mediating conflict and disputes in the Middle East, in some form, for centuries.

“It was an exceptional meeting because those who attended were not used to sitting at the same table,” said Le Drian, who is currently in New York for the UN General Assembly’s week of high-level meetings.

“We managed to launch some sort of new spirit and to gather some support for a willingness to reduce regional tensions in an unprecedented format.”

Iran’s presence at the conference, he continued, may be seen as a “positive signal,” but he said that he would convene a meeting of the joint commission of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) because, “regarding Iran, we note that the negotiations were interrupted at the request of Iran and we need to make sure that, this week, we try to launch some positive momentum or negotiations to resume.”

The JCPOA, widely referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, saw heavy restrictions and monitoring placed on Tehran’s nascent nuclear program in return for much-needed sanctions relief. Iran and the US, which also left the deal, have been in negotiations for years over a bilateral return to the deal, but those have stalled in recent months.

“In the meantime, Iran keeps breaching some commitments that they made within the JCPOA,” said Le Drian, who also warned that “time is playing against the potential (nuclear) agreement because, as time goes by, the Iranian authorities are speeding up their nuclear activities.”

The minister also addressed the latest developments in Afghanistan, recently seized by the Taliban after 20 years of US presence in the country.

He said that France and its European partners had sent across a number of “very clear requirements” of the Taliban. Those include allowing people to leave the country if they wish, preventing the country from becoming a haven for terrorists, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country, and ensuring the rights of minorities, women, and journalists are upheld.

“Should the Taliban fail to meet these requirements, they will ban themselves from the international community,” Le Drian said.

He also supported the allocation by the UN of €100 million ($117,289,000) to Afghanistan and pointed out that the Europeans had already pledged over €600 million in humanitarian aid for Afghans.

Much of Le Drian’s attention throughout the conference, however, was focused on the recent news that Australia would scrap a lucrative deal with France to buy French-made submarines, and instead form a pact with the UK and US to purchase nuclear submarines.

That deal has proved highly controversial in France and across mainland Europe, and resulted in a diplomatic row between the longtime allies.

Le Drian said that Presidents Macron and Biden will “discuss the matter very frankly” when they speak.