Iranian navy seizes foreign ship in Gulf smuggling diesel — Iranian media

Iranian navy seizes foreign ship in Gulf smuggling diesel — Iranian media
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Saturday they had seized a boat smuggling diesel in the Gulf and arrested its 11 foreign crew members. (File: Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 20 November 2021

Iranian navy seizes foreign ship in Gulf smuggling diesel — Iranian media

Iranian navy seizes foreign ship in Gulf smuggling diesel — Iranian media

The Iranian navy has seized a foreign ship in Gulf waters smuggling diesel, Iranian news media reported on Saturday.
“A foreign ship, carrying smuggled diesel was seized,” said Col. Hajjian, commander of the Naval Type 412 Zulfaqar in the southern city of Parsian.
“After inspection, more than 150,000 liters of smuggled diesel were discovered,” he added.
Hajjian, who was identified by his last name only, said the ship’s 11 crew members were detained for interrogation. He did not provide the ship’s nationality or details on when it was seized.
The incident is the latest in a series in the Gulf, with several ships attacked or seized in recent years.
To protect Iran's economy, Hajian said, his unit would "deal decisively" with fuel smuggling in the sea.


Saudi Arabia leads global condemnation of Houthi attack targeting Abu Dhabi

Men stand outside a storage facility of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi, on Jan. 17, 2022. Three people were killed in a suspected drone attack on ADNOC facilities on Monday. (AFP)
Men stand outside a storage facility of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi, on Jan. 17, 2022. Three people were killed in a suspected drone attack on ADNOC facilities on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia leads global condemnation of Houthi attack targeting Abu Dhabi

Men stand outside a storage facility of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi, on Jan. 17, 2022. Three people were killed in a suspected drone attack on ADNOC facilities on Monday. (AFP)
  • Kingdom affirmed full support for UAE in the face of all threats to its security and stability
  • The UAE said it reserves the right to respond to the attack

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister strongly condemned a Houthi “terrorist attack” targeting civilian areas and facilities in the UAE on Monday.

A drone attack targeting a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi killed three people and sparked a separate fire at Abu Dhabi's international airport on Monday, police said.

The attack, claimed by the Houthis, also resulted in six people being injured. 

READ MORE

Three people – one Pakistani and two Indian - were killed and six others injured after three fuel tankers exploded in the industrial area of Musaffah ICAD 3 near an ADNOC storage unit in Abu Dhabi. Click here for more.

During a phone call with his Emirati counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan affirmed the Kingdom's full solidarity with the UAE in the face of all threats to its security and stability.

Prince Faisal stressed that the security of the UAE and Saudi Arabia are indivisible and offered his condolences to the families of the victims of “this cowardly terrorist attack,” and to the government and people of the UAE.

An earlier statement issued by the Kingdom’s foreign ministry condemned in “the strongest terms” the “cowardly terrorist attack” that targeted Abu Dhabi International Airport on Monday.

The statement said that this terrorist act, which the Houthis are responsible for, “reaffirms the danger of this terrorist group and its threat to security, peace, and stability in the region and the world.”

The Kingdom stressed that it continues to confront all Houthi terrorist attempts and practices through its leadership of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen.

The Kingdom offered its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of the UAE, wishing a speedy recovery to all those injured in the attack.

Gulf condemnation

The UAE said it reserves the right to respond after the Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi killed three Abu Dhabi National Oil Company employees.

“We condemn the terrorist Houthi militia's targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil today,” the country’s foreign minister said.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan stressed that the attack would not go unpunished.

The foreign ministry described the attack “as a heinous crime committed by the Houthi militia” that goes against international and humanitarian law.

The ministry said that the militia continues its crimes unchecked in an effort to spread terrorism and chaos in the region in order to achieve its illegal aims and objectives.

It called on the international community to condemn and completely reject these terrorist acts that target civilians and civilian facilities.

The ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the families of those who died in the attack and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Earlier on Monday, Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, said the concerned authorities in the UAE are dealing with the “Houthi aggression” on civilian facilities in Abu Dhabi transparently and responsibly.

The militia’s violation of the region’s stability is too weak to affect the security and safety of the UAE, he added.

“The fate of this thoughtlessness and reckless foolishness is demise and defeat,” Gargash said.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry also condemned the attack and said that the “cowardly terrorist attack, which resulted in the death of three civilians and the injury of others, violates international humanitarian law and all other international laws.”

The attack “constitutes a blatant attack on the sovereignty of the UAE, reflecting the insistence of the terrorist Houthi militia to continue their cowardly criminal attacks,” the ministry said.

The ministry called upon the international community to take “necessary steps against the militia, whose hostile acts confirm that they are a terrorist organisation that poses a serious threat to the stability and security of the region.”

Kuwait also condemned the attack and the targeting of civilian areas in the UAE by the Houthi militia.

The country’s foreign ministry said the militia’s continued targeting of civilians and civilian areas and their insistence on violating international law confirms the danger of their behavior and the need for the international community to put an end to it.

The ministry said it supports any steps taken by the UAE to protect its security and stability.

Qatar expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation of the attack and said it considered the targeting of civilian establishments and vital facilities as a terrorist act that violates all international norms and laws.

The country’s foreign ministry reiterated Qatar's firm position on rejecting violence and terrorist acts that target civilians and civilian facilities.

Meanwhile, Oman’s foreign ministry expressed solidarity with the UAE and pledged to fully support the country’s measures in maintaining its security and stability.

In a statement issued on Monday, Oman strongly condemned the attack that targeted the UAE territories and killed civilians. 

Global condemnation 

The UN’s Secretary-General condemned the Houthi attack and urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

“Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international law,” Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amidst heightened tensions in the region. There are no military solutions to the conflict in Yemen,” Dujarric added.

The US strongly condemned “today’s terrorist attack in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates” and will work to hold the Houthi militia accountable after they claimed responsibility for the incident, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Monday.

“Our commitment to the security of the UAE is unwavering and we stand beside our Emirati partners against all threats to their territory,” Sullivan said.  

Following the attack, the UAE will ask the US to put the Houthis back on its list of terrorist organizations, Bloomberg reported.

The UAE will work on building pressure through the UN Security Council over the strike on Monday and the Houthi seizure of Emirati vessel Rwabee earlier this month, a source told Bloomberg.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the Houthi attack on the UAE in a phone call with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Emirates News Agency reported.

Yemen’s foreign ministry said the attack shows the frustration felt by the militia after their recent losses in Shabwa, which was completely reclaimed from them last week, and the oil-rich province of Marib.

The ministry renewed its support for the Kingdom and the UAE and any measures taken by the countries to “confront these despicable terrorist acts, preserve the safety of their citizens and residents on their lands, and protect vital facilities.”

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said that Houthi targeting of civilians in the Kingdom and the UAE are war crimes and that the militia must be held accountable.

It described Monday's hostile attack on the UAE as “cowardly” and “evil.”

Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki said Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE are a threat to regional and international security and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

“We will take the necessary operational measures to deter the hostile behavior of the Houthi militia,” Al-Maliki said.

“The escalation and hostile behavior of the Houthi militia confirms its threat to regional security and their attacks are an extension of their threat to the freedom of maritime navigation and global trade,” he added.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation strongly condemned the terrorist attack and said it stands in solidarity with the UAE and supports any steps that the country takes to protect its safety.

Jordan’s foreign ministry said the country condemned “this cowardly terrorist attack” and stressed its absolute solidarity with the UAE.

“The security of the UAE is an integral part of Jordan’s security,” the ministry said.

It extended condolences to the families of the victims, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Egypt’s Sameh Shoukri, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, also told Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a phone call that the UAE's national security closely linked to Egypt's security. 

Shoukri said Egypt strongly condemns the terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on civilian areas and facilities in UAE and fully supports the Gulf country’s measures taken to deal with any acts of terrorism. 

Meanwhile, Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, expressed similar sentiments in a phone call with his counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

The Moroccan minister reiterated his country’s solidarity with the UAE in all its measures to defend its territories and the security of its residents.

He also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery for those who were injured in the incident. 

The Arab Parliament issued a statement on Monday condeming the attack. 

 The Arab Parliament reiterated in its statement that the attack represents the Houthi militia’s cowardly terrorist aggression, is a violation of international humanitarian law and “a blatant attack on the sovereignty of the UAE.” 

It has also called on the international community to “take firm steps against these militias whose criminal acts confirm that they are a terrorist organisation that poses a serious threat to the security and stability of the region.”

Mohamed Al Halbousi, Speaker of Iraq's Council of Representatives, also condemned the attack by the Houthis in the UAE during a phone call with Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), and offered his condolences to the victims’ families.

The European Union condemned the attack and said targeting civilians is “unacceptable.”

The Houthi attack increases the risk of escalating the conflict in Yemen and undermines efforts to end the war there, the EU said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss condemned “in the strongest terms the Houthi-claimed terrorist attacks on the United Arab Emirates.”

France condemned “in the strongest terms” the deadly drone attack on Abu Dhabi.
“These attacks threaten the security of the United Arab Emirates and regional stability,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
“France expresses its support for the UAE in the face of these attacks,” he said.
Le Drian reiterated his call for the Houthis to “immediately cease their destabilising actions in Yemen and in the region and to engage constructively in a political process for exiting the crisis.”
“France reaffirms its mobilisation in favour of a cessation of hostilities in the whole country and a relaunch of talks with a view to a global political agreement under the aegis of the United Nations,” the minister said.

Algeria also condemned the attack.


New eviction standoff in flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem

New eviction standoff in flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem
Updated 18 January 2022

New eviction standoff in flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem

New eviction standoff in flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem
  • Sheikh Jarrah family threaten to blow up their home with gas canisters

AMMAN: A Palestinian family facing eviction by Israel from their home in occupied East Jerusalem threatened on Monday to blow it up with gas canisters rather than be forced out.

The latest standoff in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the city was observed by several Western diplomats, who condemned the Israeli action.

Mahmoud Salhieh, whose family are refugees from West Jerusalem’s Ein Karem neighborhood, has lived in the home since the 1950s.

“They forced us out and we left our homes in 1948. We are not going to leave voluntarily this time and leave our house to be given to Israelis,” he said, standing on the roof of the building surrounded by gas canisters..

“I will burn the house and everything in it, I will not leave here, from here to the grave, because there is no life, no dignity. I’ve been in battle with them for 25 years.”

Evictions are illegal under international humanitarian law.

Diane Corner, British Consul General

The family has been facing the threat of eviction since 2017, when the land where their home sits was allocated for school construction. But Laura Wharton, a member of the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipal council, said: “They could have built the school on the same plot without moving the families. There is plenty of space. The sad thing is, this is the municipality itself doing this. It’s not some right- wing settlers.”

The attempted eviction was wit- nessed by a delegation of Euro- pean diplomats led by Sven Kuhn von Burgsorff, head of the EU mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“The EU is very clear — in occupied territory, evictions are a violation of international humanitarian law, and that is true for any eviction or any demolition being ordered, including this one,” he said.

British Consul General Diane Corner, who was also present, said the UK government considered East Jerusalem occupied territory. “Evictions are illegal under international humanitarian law. They cause unnecessary suffering and they only serve to fuel tensions on the ground,” she said.


UN official: Libya elections could be rescheduled for June

UN official: Libya elections could be rescheduled for June
Updated 18 January 2022

UN official: Libya elections could be rescheduled for June

UN official: Libya elections could be rescheduled for June
  • Libyans want an end to this long period of transition that the country has experienced since the events of 2011

CAIRO: A senior US official said she is pushing for Libya to hold elections by June after the county missed a December deadline to elect its first president since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Stephanie Williams, the UN’s special adviser on Libya, said that it is still “very reasonable and possible” for the country’s 2.8 million voters to cast their ballots by June in line with the UN-brokered 2020 roadmap.

Libya failed to hold its first-ever presidential elections on Dec. 24 as scheduled, a major blow to international efforts to end a decade-long chaos in the oil-rich Mediterranean nation.

Williams, who led UN efforts to end the latest bout of violence in Libya in 2020, said elections are needed in the country to give credence to the country’s institutions.

“All the institutions are suffering a crisis of legitimacy,” she said.

“I don’t see any other exit for Libya other than a peaceful political process.”

The country plunged into turmoil after the NATO-backed 2011 uprising and split into rival governments — one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar, and another UN-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli, in the west. Each side is supported by a variety of militias and foreign powers.

Mediated by the UN, an October 2020 ceasefire led to the formation of a transitional government and scheduled elections for Dec. 24. But the vote faced steep challenges that eventually forced its postponement.

Williams urged lawmakers, who are convening Monday in the eastern city of Tobruk, to agree on a “clear, time-bound process with a clear horizon and to not create an open-ended process.”

“They have to shoulder a great responsibility right now to respect the will of the Libyans who registered to vote,” she said.

“Libyans want an end to this long period of transition that the country has experienced since the events of 2011.”

The missed election deadline came after bitter disputes over the laws governing the electoral process. Outbreaks of fighting among armed factions and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and troops in the North African country also fed mistrust between the rival groups.

Controversial figures declaring runs for the presidency have further polarized the political scene in recent months. Among them are Hifter, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Seif Al-Islam Qaddafi, the ousted dictator’s son and one-time heir apparent. Opponents of Hifter and Gadhafi have said they will never accept an election victory by them.

The country’s election commission didn’t name a final list of candidates for the presidential and parliamentary elections. Imad Al-Sayeh, head the commission, told the parliament Monday that militias threatened to stop the electoral process if a final list was announced.

Al-Sayeh said the commission needs between six and eight months to prepare for elections, given the uphill challenges that led to the postponement of Dec. 24 vote.

Williams said lawmakers and leaders in Tripoli should work out the disputes over the elections rules. She did not see the departure of foreign mercenaries as a “prerequisite for the elections,” saying that holding the cease-fire is the priority.

“There have been mercenaries in Libya since 1970s,” she said, adding later, “I don’t believe that that is a card that is necessary to play at this time.”

Williams also said all factions should accept the results no matter who wins.

“The way to solve this is (allowing) the Libyan voters go to the ballot box and make their own choice,” she said. “Results need to be respected.”

The vote’s delay also threatens to open a power vacuum. Lawmakers have argued that the mandate of Dbeibah’s government ended on Dec. 24. Aguila Saleh, the influential speaker of parliament, said Monday that the transitional government “should be restructured.”

The UN adviser called on the parliament to focus on delivering the vote rather than appointing a new transitional administration.

“What Libyans have clearly said is that they want to go to the ballot box and choose their government, a democratically government representing the entire Libya,” she said.


Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops in occupied West Bank

Palestinian shot dead  by Israeli troops in occupied  West Bank
Updated 18 January 2022

Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops in occupied West Bank

Palestinian shot dead  by Israeli troops in occupied  West Bank
  • Violence has simmered in the West Bank, among territories Palestinians seek for a state, since US-backed peace talks with Israel stalled in 2014

HEBRON: A Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank on Monday and was shot dead by him, the army said.

In a separate incident, the Palestinian Health Ministry said an elderly Palestinian died of injuries received nearly two weeks ago when he was hit by a vehicle in Israeli police service.

Violence has simmered in the West Bank, among territories Palestinians seek for a state, since US-backed peace talks with Israel stalled in 2014.

Video circulated on social media, and apparently taken by a motorist, showed a man lying on the road at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, knife in hand, as three soldiers approached with rifles trained on him. A military spokesman said a man had emerged from a car and tried to stab a soldier, who shot him dead, and that the vehicle had fled the scene.

Another Israeli military official identified the dead man as a Palestinian from an outlying village.

In the nearby city of Hebron, the Health Ministry announced the death of 75-year-old Suleiman Al-Hathalin, a veteran protester against Israel’s West Bank settlements.

He had been standing in front of a tow truck that had been sent to his village of Um El-Kheir to confiscate unlicensed cars on Jan 5, a relative, Hazem Al-Hathalin, said.

He said that Suleiman Al-Hathalin was struck deliberately by the truck, which “ran him over with its front and back wheels” before driving away.

Israeli police spokespersons did not immediately comment.

In a statement quoted by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper on Jan. 14, police said Palestinians had thrown stones at the truck and police forces that had accompanied it, making it impossible for them to stop and help a man who had climbed on the vehicle and fallen.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Facebook that he “died defending his village.”

Villagers said vehicles which police had sought to tow away were bought from Israelis at low cost after they failed to pass annual roadworthiness inspections in Israel.


Protest by families of Beirut blast victims brings Palace of Justice to standstill

Protest by families of Beirut blast victims brings Palace of Justice to standstill
Updated 17 January 2022

Protest by families of Beirut blast victims brings Palace of Justice to standstill

Protest by families of Beirut blast victims brings Palace of Justice to standstill
  • Relatives express anger over ‘obstruction and evasion of justice’ and say they support investigating Judge Tarek Bitar ‘more than ever’

BEIRUT: Relatives of the victims of the explosion that destroyed Beirut’s Port in August 2020 staged a fresh protest in the city on Monday, amid growing anger and frustration over what they see as “procrastination” that is hampering the official investigation into the blast.

They blocked roads and entrances at the Palace of Justice to express their “anger and deep sense of the injustice inflicted on them by all those who submit requests to reject the work of judicial investigator Judge Tarek Bitar.”

Their demonstration caused work in the courtrooms to grind to a halt. The families accuse authorities of “negligence, ignoring and covering up the crime and the catastrophe of the biggest explosion in modern history that afflicted Lebanon and Beirut.”

They said that they will call for an international investigation “if stagnation and threats continue, and the case is diluted.”

Bitar, 48, has been unable to complete his investigation into the explosion and the part that the actions of politicians and officials might have played in the events that led up to it. The individuals under investigation include a former prime minister, four ministers and a number of deputies, senior security officials and port officials.

The work of the judge has been suspended for more than two months. He took over the case in February last year after his predecessor, Judge Fadi Sawan, who was removed from the investigation by the Court of Cassation following complaints by two ministers accused of negligence that resulted in the deaths of innocent people.

Since taking over the case, Bitar has been subjected to a smear campaign, intense political pressure and threats inside the Palace of Justice from a Hezbollah official. Suspects in the case, including ministers and representatives, who enjoy parliamentary immunity, have filed dozens of lawsuits calling for Bitar to be removed from the case.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah accused Bitar of “politicizing the investigation and exercising discretion.” The party’s supporters staged protests in October demanding the judge be replaced. Supporters of the Amal Movement joined the demonstrations, which escalated into violent clashes and led to deaths.

During the protests at the Palace of Justice on Monday, families of the victims of the port explosion called on officials to make the necessary judicial appointments to ensure requirements are met for the number of members of the general assembly of the Court of Cassation. The court recently lost its quorum when one of its judges retired, which has hampered efforts to resume the investigation.

A delegation representing the protesters reached the office of Judge Suhail Abboud, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council. Members of the delegation said that when asked about restoring the quorum, Abboud told them “any legal measures that can be taken to protect the investigation will be studied.”

The protesters carried banners denouncing the “corrupt political authority and state officials who dilute the investigation file, manipulate the law and want to remove Judge Bitar, who is entrusted by all the Lebanese to reveal the facts and punish the criminal perpetrators, from whichever side.”

Another banner read: “No one is immune when 220 are martyred, 6,500 wounded, half of the capital Beirut is destroyed and hundreds of thousands of citizens are displaced.”

In a statement, the protesters said: “Enough of wasting time, sometimes by resorting to political immunity and sometimes by accusing Judge Bitar of discretion or politicization in an attempt to remove him and end the investigation.

“Today, we affirm that we are behind the judicial investigator more than ever before and we hold the accused criminals responsible for doing nothing but obstruction and evasion of justice.”

The relatives expressed anger over the failure of authorities to act on a warrant, issued by Bitar, for the arrest of MP Ali Hassan Khalil, a former finance minister who is political assistant to the head of the Amal Movement, Nabih Berri.

They questioned “how this minister was able to hold a press conference a week ago without anyone touching him.”

A judicial source told Arab News that Judge Bitar will remain unable to resume his investigation until appointments are made to the Court of Cassation so that it can make a decision to do so, and ruled out the possibility of these appointments taking place before the presidential election in May.