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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Strait of Hormuz’

Iranian Government Humiliates U.S. After Freeing Sailors

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Iran kept its promise and released the U.S. Navy sailors with their two small boats back into the Persian Gulf late Wednesday, but not before snapping a wealth of images and probably scrutinizing the vessels right down to the last bolt.

Tehran made certain to get as much mileage as possible from the unexpected windfall of the boats that drifted Tuesday a scant mile (two kilometers, 1.2 miles) into its territorial waters.

Seizing both, Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the crews of a lone female and nine male sailors would be released “promptly.”

But they were held for 24 hours on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf – home to a base of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — for as long as could reasonably be managed without an international public relations disaster. Although Iran does not usually concern itself with public relations, this time it was important.

After all, Iran is on track for “implementation day” shortly — the day when the economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are to be lifted. On that day billions of dollars are to start flowing again into its coffers, and oil can once again begin flowing in the other direction, towards its still-loyal European customers.

Meanwhile, the IRGC technicians had plenty of time to examine previously inaccessible American technology and equipment, photograph it from every angle and probably sample it as well. Perhaps some tinkering? Anything taken? These are questions that will only be answered once the sailors are safely back to base and debriefed, and engineers can go over the equipment.

The sailors were also filmed in humiliating circumstances, on their knees with hands behind their heads — good footage for reminding folks on the home front and abroad who’s the boss on the high seas, and at home, when it counts.

That footage and those snaps are now being released to the Iranian and global public. The images will also jog the memories of anyone old enough to remember the days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, those who watched the coverage of the American Embassy hostages in Tehran.

The message is crystal clear:  If you choose to sail into Persian Gulf waters, beware. We await you, and at any opportunity we will pounce. This is an area under our complete control. Enter at your own risk.

The lack of response by Washington when a Middle East nation violates UN Security Council resolutions – like the test of a ballistic missile by Iran last October – is an invitation to an escalation at some point down the line.

More to the point, the message to Tehran when its Navy fires a rocket almost directly at an American military vessel — as it did last month — and life continues with “business as usual” is one that is dangerous and very unwise.

In the Middle East, a non-response is perceived as weakness, vulnerability and availability for more of the same. For those who look to the U.S. as an ally, this is a very bad message indeed.

Hana Levi Julian

US Navy Vessels Seized in Persian Gulf, Held by Iran

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Ten crew members of two U.S. Navy vessels were picked up by the Iranian Coast Guard on Tuesday while in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian state-run FARS News reported the two vessels were two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Iranian territorial waters. Nine men and one woman are being held, according to EA Worldview.

The incident occurred while the two crews were trying to sort out mechanical trouble with one of the boats near Farsi Island, in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials told the Associated Press Tuesday that both crews and vessels were being held by Tehran.

However, “We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,” said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

A senior American official said Secretary of State John Kerry “personally engaged with [Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad] Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome.”

The boats were in the process of traveling between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

Farsi Island is home to an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps base, EA Worldview reported.

Senior U.S. military officials said the boats were on a training mission Tuesday night when one vessel lost power and drifted into Iranian territorial waters.

One official said the Iranians ‘understand the territorial incursion was not deliberate’ and have agreed to release the Americans in international waters within hours.

“We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel.

“We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey,” the unnamed American official said.

Less than a month ago, Iran fired a rocket towards U.S. vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Hana Levi Julian

Iranian Rocketfire ‘Close Call’ With US Vessel in Strait of Hormuz

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired a rocket close to an American military vessel on Saturday, in the Strait of Hormuz.

The missile was test-fired 1.3 kilometers (barely 3/4 of a mile) from the USS Harry S. Truman.

U.S. Central Command told Reuters the drill was “provocative, unsafe and unprofessional.”

The rockets were directed off the carrier’s starboard side, and were fired just as the U.S. carrier neared the end of the strait, military sources said.

The USS Harry S. Truman and the other vessels were in the “internationally recognized maritime traffic lane” at the time, a U.S. military official told NBC News. The USS Buckley, a French frigate and other commercial traffic were also present in the strait.

As the ships were transiting through, the Iranian navy suddenly announced over maritime radio that a live-fire exercise was about to begin. The navy ordered all vessels – which at the time were not in Iranian territorial waters – to clear the area.

Just 23 minutes later, an Iranian Navy fast and short attack craft began firing several unguided rockets “in close proximity,” according to U.S. Central Command spokesperson Navy Commander Kyle Raines.

“These actions were highly provocative, unsafe, and unprofessional and call into question Iran’s commitment to the security of a waterway vital to international commerce,” Raines said.

“While most interactions between Iranian forces and the U.S. Navy are professional, safe, and routine, this event was not and runs contrary to efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime safety in the global commons,” Raines added in the unusually irate statement.

On November 16 2015, the USS Harry S. Truman, with assigned Carrier Air Wing Seven, began a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation, the U.S. Navy confirmed. Truman can travel in excess of 30 knots, and has a crew of approximately 3,000. With the embarked air wing and staffs, the number rises to about 5,000.

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Fires on Ship in International Waters

Friday, May 15th, 2015

It isn’t due to global warming, but the waters in the Persian Gulf are heating up.

A Singapore-Flagged ship sailing in international waters was fired upon by five Iranian Revolutionary Guards ships in the Persian Gulf.

The United Arab Emirate’s coastguard picked up a distress call from the ship under fire. “The ship sent a distress call to the UAE coastguard forces, which responded to the call and helped ship access to the port of Jebel Ali,” according to the WAM news agency.

The UAE’s coastguard said it went to the aid of a Singapore-flagged ship on Thursday after the vessel came under Iranian naval fire, the Gulf state’s news agency reported.

U.S. officials, who refused to speak on the record, said five Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy ships approached the Alpine Eternity oil products tanker, prompting the ship to flee to safety in United Arab Emirates’ waters, according to Reuters.

The White House, Pentagon and State Department acknowledged concern about Iran’s conduct. “This is exactly the type of challenge that many of the (Gulf) partners are focused on,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

Two weeks ago, Iranian patrol ships diverted a Marshall Islands-flagged container vessel from the Strait of Hormuz allegedly to settle a years-old debt case.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Gulf Arab Leaders to Confront Obama on Iran

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama just can’t catch a break.

First he is questioned about Iranian aggression by Israel or members of the U.S. Congress, and now he’s about to be confronted by Arab leaders at a summit.

And that comes after some fast footwork to bring Saudi Arabia back into the loop altogether. Over the weekend King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud decided to excuse himself from Thursday’s upcoming summit, throwing the White House into ‘scramble’ mode.

The king was clearly sending a strong message to Washington: “Stop dithering and making excuses; let’s see some action on Iranian violations and on ending the nightmare in Syria.”

Saudi Arabia itself has led the way in its own mini-war against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. Its disregard for “collateral” casualties and damage in favor of simply “getting the job done” is a typically Middle Eastern way of doing things but in fact also makes it clear that players in the region expect no less from Obama.

Leaders of Persian Gulf nations are arriving at Camp David to meet Thursday with the U.S. president, according to the Saudi state-run SPA news agency.

Discussion at the summit will focus on Iran’s “aggressive” moves in the region, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Monday.

“We see Iranian support for terrorist organizations and facilitating the work of terrorist organizations, so the challenge will be in how to coordinate US-Gulf efforts in order to collectively face these aggressive moves on the part of Iran,” al-Jubeir told the news agency.

Several weeks ago, Iran captured a cargo ship sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands and seized its crew of 34 sailors. The ship, its cargo and crew was stopped as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and boarded by members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Its captain was forced to navigate the vessel into a southern Iranian port city, where it has remained since.

The United States is obligated under a mutual defense treaty to protect vessels and personnel operating under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

For a number of days after the capture, U.S. warships escorted American and British-flagged vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. The escort, however, has since been discontinued, according to media reports.

At least four U.S. citizens still remain captive in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Hana Levi Julian

US Navy Begins Escorting UK Ships in Strait of Hormuz

Monday, May 4th, 2015

The United States has added vessels from Britain to the list of ships to be given protection in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Navy warships have already begun to provide an escort to UK-flagged vessels as they sail through the Strait, said Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Warren told reporters at a briefing on Monday the Navy has escorted one British ship through the strait so far.

The decision followed a discussion between London and Washington over the security status in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. vessels have been under escort protection of the Navy since April 28, 2015, when Iran seized the M/V Maersk Tigris. The Maersk, a Danish ship, was flagged under the Marshall Islands at the time it was captured.

The United States is obligated to defend vessels flagged under the Marshall Islands according to a mutual defense treaty between the two countries. The 34 sailors who were aboard the captured vessel were last heard from about 24 hours after the seizure, and said they were in good condition but were being confined to quarters. They have not been heard from since, nor has there been any independent confirmation of their whereabouts or condition following that contact.

Hana Levi Julian

US Navy Escorting US-Flagged Vessels in Strait of Hormuz

Friday, May 1st, 2015

At least for now, U.S. Navy ships deployed in the region are escorting commercial vessels sailing under the flag of the United States of America through the Strait of Hormuz.

The decision was made by the Defense Department, military officials said Thursday. It followed Iran’s seizure Tuesday of a Danish vessel sailing flagged under the Marshall Islands. Such vessels are protected by the United States by treaty.

“Out of an abundance of caution, because of the unpredictability of our Iranian friends, we’re now positioned so that, should the Iranians decide that they’re going to be stupid, we’re ready to respond,” a U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal.

Even as the U.S. escalates its defensive posture in protecting vessels from Iranian piracy in the Strait of Hormuz, Vice President Joe Biden praised efforts to sign a deal with Tehran over its nuclear technology program.

Biden told an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Thursday the pending deal is “a historic opportunity to forge an enduring peaceful solution… We put together not only the toughest sanctions regime in history but one of the most broad-based,” the vice president maintained.

Biden also claimed the path to plutonium enrichment would be closed “forever” under the deal being negotiated. At present, he contended, Iran is already capable of producing eight atomic weapons. The agreement under discussion would “radically” alter the time line on Iran’s ability to achieve nuclear weapons capability, Biden said.

However, he added, the U.S. was not yet ruling out a military option. President Barack Obama might still walk away from the table, he said.

Iran is refusing to allow access to its military sites and is demanding that all sanctions be lifted immediately upon implementation of the agreement.

The United States and the five world powers negotiating the deal is reportedly insisting on sanctions relief phased in gradually over time, and a “clear” snap-back mechanism to be activated at the United Nations Security Council if Tehran violates the deal.

Final signatures are expected to be on the document by the end of June, if at all.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-navy-escorting-us-flagged-vessels-in-strait-of-hormuz/2015/05/01/

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