WHAT IS BEHIND ATTACKS ON TANKERS IN PERSIAN GULF REGION

South Front

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

Tensions are on the rise around the Persian Gulf after a series of suspicious attacks on oil tankers in the region.

On May 12, a supposed sabotage attack targeted very large crude carrier Amjad, crude tanker Al Marzoqah [both owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri], UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge A Michel and Norwegian-registered oil products tanker MT AndreA Victory off UAE’s Fujairah. the attack did not cause any casualties or an oil spill.

Intitially, Thome Ship Management said that its MT Andrew Victory was “struck by an unknown object”. Jaber Al Lamki, an executive director at the UAE’s National Media Council, claimed that the attack was “aimed at undermining global oil supplies and maritime security.”

Mainstream media outlets came with variuos speculations providing contradictory claims of ‘anonymous soources’ on the incident. Most of these speculations were focusing on the supposed Iranian involvement in the situation.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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The US de-facto blamed Iran for the situation with National Security Adviser John Bolton claiming that the attacks were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

“It’s clear that Iran is behind the Fujairah attack. Who else would you think would be doing it? Someone from Nepal?” he told journalists at a US embassy briefing.

“There is no doubt in anybody’s minds in Washington, we know who did this and it’s important Iran knows we know,” he added.

In own turn, Iran stated that it played no part in the attacks and said that it was a false flag fabricated by the US. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stressed that Iran expected “suspicious sabotage acts.”

“In this meeting, concern about suspicious actions and sabotage in the region was talked about, and we said that we had previously predicted that such actions would occur to create tensions in the region,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif following talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on May 14th.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the head of Majlis national security and foreign policy commission said that the alleged sabotage of the tankers was proof how fragile security was in the Persian Gulf. Falahatpisheh said that the attack was performed by the “third party”.

On June 12, a fire that broke out on an Iranian oil platform of the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf and was subsequently contained and no fatalities were reported. Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA said the fire had been contained. State TV said the cause of the fire was under investigation and there were no reports of disruptions to operations at the field.

On June 13, another suspicious incident took place in the Gulf of Oman. Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous oil tankers were rocked by explosions. This development also appeared to be surrounded by multiple speculations immidiately after first reports about the situation. The initial versions were varrying from a torpedo attack to naval mines with the aforementioned tendency regarding the supposed Iranian involvement.

The incident happened during a visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Iran. The Kokuka Courageous is owned by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo Ltd.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

Image source: AFP

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

AP Photo / ISNA

Both Iran and the US released contradictory statements claiming that their naval forces had  rescued crew members of the tankers. Nonetheless, once again no casualties were reported in the supposed attack.

Later on the same day, State Secretary Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack. He claimed that Iran wants to end “successful maximum pressure campaign” of the US sanctions.

“This is only the latest in the series of attacks instigated by the Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American allies and interests. They should be understood in the context of four years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations,” he said.

Dryad Global@GlobalDryad

Reports of vessel MT Front Altair being on fire & adrift at position 2527N 05722E are being investigated. No cause has been positively confirmed. Latest information will be communicated when available. Contact our team via http://www.dryadglobal.com 

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Iran once again denied its involvement in such developments. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif labeled the incident as “suspicious” hinting that this may have been a provocation.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.

Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.

Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.

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On June 14, Washington claimed that it has evidence confirming the Iranian involvement in the June 13 incident. According  to a statement by US Central Command, Iranian forces were spotted removing “a probable unexploded limpet mine” from Kokuka Courageous.

The video released by Central Command shows a boat coming up to the side of the tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and removes some object from the tanker’s hull.

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Central Comamnd also released photos supposed to confirm the claim regarding the unexploded mine.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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The full text of the  Central Command statement:

“U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time from the motor tanker (M/T) Altair and a second one at 7a.m. local time from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls. USS Bainbridge was approximately 40 nautical miles away from the M/T Altair at the time of the attack, and immediately began closing the distance.

At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair.

At 9:12 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observes the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the M/T Altair from the water.

At 9:26 a.m. local time the Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the M/T Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian FIACs.

At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.

While the Hendijan patrol boat appeared to attempt to get to the tug Coastal Ace before USS Bainbridge, the mariners were rescued by USS Bainbridge at the request of the master of the M/T Kokuka Courageous. The rescued sailors are currently aboard USS Bainbridge.

At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

The U.S. and our partners in the region will take all necessary measures to defend ourselves and our interests.  Today’s attacks are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce.

The U.S. and the international community, stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation.

The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.

– attributable to Capt. Bill Urban, Lead Spokesman for U.S. Central Command”

Nonetheless, this version faced a serious scepticism among more or less independent media outlets, and even the owner and operator of the Kokuka Courageous and European allies of the US.

“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also avoided to blame Iran for the situation directly.

“Before we blame someone, we need credible evidence,” the official said.

Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo, said on June 14 that he doesn’t completely believe the US version of events. Katada called reports of a mine attack “false” pointing an obvious reason – a mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level, like what was seen with Kokuka Courageous.

“A mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level,” he said “We aren’t sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship.”

He added that sailors on board the ship saw “flying objects” just before Kokuka Courageous was hit. This is another evidence suggesting the vessel wasn’t damaged by mines, but by objects that could have been fired from a distance.

What Is Behind Attacks On Tankers In Persian Gulf Region

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On June 15, the media hysteria continued. CNN claimed that Iranian forces attempted to shoot down a US drone in the area:

“In the hours before the attack on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.

The missile missed the drone and fell into the water, the official said.

Prior to taking fire, the American MQ-9 Reaper drone observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers, the official added, though the source did not say whether the unmanned aircraft saw the boats conducting an actual attack.

Still, it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack.”

It’s expected that soon the English-speaking audience will get more “revelations” and “details” regarding the incident form anonymous sources of MSM outlets. These reports would be a logical continuation of the previous series of media hysteria on supposed Iranian preparations to attack US forces and infrastructure in the Middle East fueled by the Washington establishment and MSM.

The “Iran is readying for an attack” propaganda campaign was used by the US to justify its ongoing military buildup in the region.

  • On May 25, President Donald Trump declared that the US is sending 1,500 troops, 12 fighter jets, manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft, and a number of military engineers to counter Iran. Trump also approved an $8 billion sale of precision guided missiles and other military support to Saudi Arabia.
  • The Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and the USS Arlington amphibious transport dock, which carries marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, were deployed near the Persian Gulf.
  • A strategic bomber task force was deployed at the US airbase Al Udeid in Qatar.

Taking into account the military and political situation established in the region, and the obvious loopholes in Washington’s version of the June 13 ‘attack’, it’s quite possible it was a pre-planned provocation. Furthermore, the main side interested in this development is the US. It allows it to pursue several important goals:

  • The growing tensions in the Persian Gulf region allows the Trump administration to continue exploiting the “Iranian threat” to justify its internal and foreign policies. Inside the US, it will allow Washinton to increase spending on military-industrial complex even further. In terms of the foreign policy, the US got an additional justification to continue its hard-core anti-Iranian and pro-Israeli policy as well as to boost military and diplomatic presence in the Middle East.
  • The geoeconomic goal of this provocation is to create tensions in the Persian Gulf region and near it (the western part of Indian Ocean). The growing threat to maritime security would increase the coast of logistical costs for key oil consumers. DHT Holdings and Heidmar, two of the biggest oil tankers operators in the world, have suspended new bookings to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The oil price gew. Insurance rates for logistical operations in the region are also expected to grow. This situation directly impacts China, one of the key oil consumers, and European states with a large industrial potential, like Germany. The pressure on possible economic competitors through economic (tariffs and sanctions), military and diplomatic means are the consistent policy of the Trump administration.

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Iran has strongly denied its involvement in the attack. Nonetheless, it also played a role in the current tensions through its allies in Yemen. Over the past months, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) has drastically increased the number of missile and drone attacks on key infrastructure objects in Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian leadership would also use the threat of an aggressive and artful enemy (the US-Israeli alliance) to justify its policies and boost influence on Shia armed groups and movements across the Greater Middle East, first of all in Yemen and Iraq.

Ansar Allah, supported by Iran, will likely continue strident and painful attacks on Saudi Arabia. In the event of the further escalation of the regional situation, Teheran may even use some of its allied groups for attacks on US forces or infrastructure objects.

Strategically, Iran will focus on developing asymmetric means and measures, including tactical missile forces and a mosquito-craft fleet. The chosen asymmetric responses will be in level with Iran’s economic capabilities and capable of delivering a blow to the US in the event of a hot conflict.

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ماذا سيفعل الأميركيون لضمان أسواق النفط؟

يونيو 14, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– ليس من إثبات قانوني على مسؤولية إيران عن أي من الحوادث التي تصيب سوق النفط وتتسبب بالمزيد من التدهور في استقراره والمزيد من الصعود في أسعاره، لكن الأكيد أن ما تشهده منطقة الخليج من حوادث تستهدف سوق النفط يتمّ على خلفية النظر إلى مشهد التوتر الناتج عن الاستهداف الأميركي لقدرة إيران على تصدير نفطها من جهة، والرد الإيراني القائم على معادلة، إذا لم نستطع تصدير نفطنا فإن غيرنا لن يستطيع ذلك أيضاً، والعالم كله ينظر للتصعيد القائم الآن وفقاً لمعادلة أبعد من كيف تثبت واشنطن قوتها، أو كيف تردّ واشنطن على ما تتهم إيران به، فالسؤال الكبير دولياً هو مَن يضمن عودة الاستقرار إلى سوق النفط وإلى أسعاره؟

– إذا سلكت واشنطن طريق الاستهداف العسكري المباشر أو غير المباشر، الضيّق والمحدود أو الأوسع، فإن ذلك سيعني تصاعد الوضع أكثر واستدراج ردود على الردود من نوعها، مباشرة أو غير مباشرة، محدودة أو واسعة النطاق، لكن الأكيد هو أن سوق النفط ستبلغ المزيد من الاضطراب والأسعار ستبلغ المزيد من السقوف العالية، وإذا سلكت واشنطن طريق التجاهل واكتفت بالتحذير والسعي لردود دبلوماسيّة، فإن ذلك يقول إن الخط البياني للأحداث التي استهدفت سوق النفط سيتصاعد وبات هو الحاكم المسيطر على معادلات هذا السوق، وعنوانها، إن لم تستطع إيران تصدير نفطها فإن غيرها لن يستطيع.

– بالتوازي تتبقى ثلاثة أسابيع أمام نهاية مهلة الستين يوماً التي ستبادر إيران بنهايتها إلى التخصيب المرتفع لليورانيوم والتخزين لليورانيوم المخصب، وصولاً لامتلاك ما قالت واشنطن ودول الغرب إنه نقطة الخطر، اي امتلاك إيران ما يكفي لإنتاج أول قنبلة نووية، رغم قرارها بعدم فعل ذلك. والسؤال الموازي ماذا ستفعل واشنطن عندها، أو ماذا ستفعل واشنطن قبلها لمنع بلوغ تلك اللحظة، وبمعزل عن المسؤوليات القانونية التي لا تفيد في مثل هذه الحالات تواجه واشنطن أخطر اختبار لمشهد قوتها على الساحة الدولية حيث تبدو كل الخيارات صعبة، ويبدو الزمن الذي تحتاجه واشنطن لاختبار فعالية إجراءاتها الاقتصادية التصعيدية بوجه إيران أكبر بكثير من الزمن الذي وضعت فيه طهران واشنطن أمام اللحظات الحرجة لضمان استقرار سوق النفط ومواجهة مستقبل ملفها النووي.

– الطريق السالك الوحيد أمام واشنطن لتفادي الأسوأ هو استغلال الوقت المتبقي قبل دخول مهلة الستين يوماً حيّز التنفيذ في الشق النووي، والذهاب إلى قمة العشرين في نهاية الشهر الحالي بخريطة طريق، لتأجيل متبادل أميركي وإيراني للحزمة الأخيرة من الخطوات التصعيديّة لستة شهور تمنح خلالها الوساطات الفرص المناسبة للوصول إلى مبادرات سياسية بديلة. وهذا يعني تراجع واشنطن عن كل ما صدر عنها من عقوبات منذ نهاية شهر نيسان الماضي عندما قامت بإلغاء الاستثناءات الممنوحة على شراء النفط والغاز من إيران لثماني دول، وما تلاها من عقوبات على المعادن والبتروكيماويات الإيرانية، مقابل تراجع إيران عن مهلة الستين يوماً، وتوصل الدول المعنية لضمانات للتعاون في منع أي استهداف لأسواق النفط، وسيتلقف الروس والصينيّون والأوروبيّون واليابانيّون هذه المبادرة وتتجاوب معها إيران، التي كان مدخل خيارها التصعيدي التصعيد الأميركي الجديد.

– تبريد التصعيد سيفتح الطريق للبحث عن سقوف منخفضة لتسويات واقعية في سورية واليمن بعيداً عن المطالب الأميركية الوهمية والخيالية. ويفتح طريق تجميد النزاع حول الملف النووي الذي لا يزعج إيران خروج واشنطن منه ولا يريح واشنطن عودتها إليه، ويصعب على الطرفين التنازل في بنوده، وإلا فإن الرعونة الأميركية التي كانت وراء الخطوات الأخيرة في التصعيد تحتاج لخريطة طريق نحو الحرب والفوز بها، وادعاء واشنطن بامتلاكها كذبة ستفضحها كل محاولة للعب بالنار في منطقة تقف على برميل بارود، ربما تكون كلفة الحروب فيه أعلى بكثير من كلفة التسويات، مع فارق أن بين خاسر وخاسر سيختلف الوضع كثيراً. فهناك مَن سيخسر مكانته العالمية كحال أميركا ووجوده كحال «إسرائيل» ونظام حكمه كحال أنظمة الخليج، فوق الخسائر البشرية والمادية المؤلمة التي سيتساوى فيها مع إيران وحلفائها.

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CENTCOM Video Not Enough to Blame Iran for Tanker Attacks

By Staff, Agencies

The alleged video footage released by the US military to blame Iran for the recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman was disputed even by Washington’s allies and Western analysts.

Less than a day after the US Central Command [CENTCOM] released the video late Thursday purportedly showing “Iranian sailors” removing a mine from the Japanese-owned Kokura Courageous’ hull earlier in the day, European governments — except for Britain — have so far refused to accept the US’ narrative that Tehran was to blame for the “suspicious” attacks.

They are reluctant to accept the White House’s claims at face value, and do not want to provide Washington with any pretext for war.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday the video is not sufficient to prove the US claim that Iran was behind the attacks.

“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Maas, who was in Iran earlier this week on an official two-day visit, told reporters in Oslo.

Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to European foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini also rejected the US allegations, saying, “Before we blame someone, we need credible evidence.”

Iranians are deeply rational actors, she said. And for Iran to have attacked a Japanese ship when the Japanese prime minister was in Tehran “is not an especially rational thing to do.”

In the released video, a small boat is shown coming up to the side of the Japanese-owned tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and can be seen removing an object from the tanker’s hull. The US claims that the object is likely an unexploded mine.

“At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous,” the CENTCOM said in a statement.

The claim, however, was soon rejected by the Japanese ship’s operator, whose president said on Friday its sailors on board the Kokuka Courageous saw “flying objects” just before the attack, suggesting the tanker wasn’t damaged by mines.

“The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” President Yutaka Katada of Kokuka Sangyo told a press conference in Tokyo. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”

The video was also disputed by Western investigative journalists and defense analysts.

Investigative historian and journalist Gareth Porter said he had “written to the CENTCOM media desk to ask why the video the command has released does not show what happened before the moment something is removed from the side of the boat.”

The investigative journalism website Bellingcat also wrote that “there’s currently no evidence to verify what was removed from the side of the vessel was a mine, and there’s no evidence at the moment about who placed it there, so claiming it was a mine placed by the Iranians is pure conjecture at this point in time.”

Some analysts and observers even questioned the authenticity of the video, arguing that the US military has edited the video to make it misleading.

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تونس: سائحون صهاينة يهتفون باسم جيش الاحتلال

يونيو 14, 2019

دان الاتحاد العام التونسي للشغل ما أسماه «استباحة أرض تونس من قبل الصهاينة وبتواطؤ من جهات سياسية وأخرى تعمل في مجال السياح»، وذلك على خلفية ما بثته قناة اسرائيلية عن زيارة «إسرائيليين» لمنزل الشهيد الفلسطيني أبو جهاد في تونس، وظهورهم وهم يهتفون باسم الكيان الصهيوني وجيش الاحتلال.

كما دان اتحاد الشغل في بيان له التصريحات الإعلامية لوزير السياحة و»محاولته التغطية على ما حدث ويحدث في مجال التطبيع السياحي بالتهرّب ومغالطة الرأي العام»، مؤكداً رفضه تبرير التطبيع بتبرير الأزمة الاقتصادية وحاجة البلاد إلى تنمية سياحتها.

وجدّد مطالبته بالتحقيق في أنشطة إحدى الشركات السياحية التي تقوم برحلات إلى الأراضي الفسطينية المحتلة بالتنسيق مع جيش الاحتلال الصهيوني، محملاً الحكومة مسؤوليتها في اتخاذ الإجراءات القانونية لمنع كل أشكال التطبيع ومحاسبة القائمين عليه مهما كان موقعهم ومكانتهم.

وعبر عن تجنّده مع المجتمع المدني والقوى الوطنية من أجل مقاومة التطبيع بشتى أشكاله ومن أجل فرض قانون يجرّم التطبيع، داعياً كافة القوى الوطنية إلى استعمال كافة النضالات السلمية لوقف «هرولة البعض إلى التطبيع».

وأكد الأمين العام المساعد بالاتحاد العام التونسي للشغل محمد علي البوغديري رفض الاتحاد بشكل قاطع التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني، مشدداً على أن ما جرى عار على الحكومة.

وقال إنه قد تبيّن أن «هناك تطبيعاً من قبل الحكومة مع الكيان الصهيوني للأسف، والتونسيون لن يقبلوا ذلك، معتبراً أن ما جرى يُعدّ استفزازاً».

في حين أكد عضو المكتب السياسي بحركة النضال الوطني أحمد الكحلاوي أن تقرير القناة الصهيونية عرض مشاهد من أمام منزل الشهيد محمد الزواري، معتبراً أن الهدف هو تدريج عملية التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني.

وكان وزير الخارجية التونسي خميس الجهيناوي نفى علمه بكامل المعطيات المتعلقة بالتقارير الإعلامية حول زيارة صهاينة إلى تونس.

من جهته، اعتبر سالم الأبيض عضو مجلس نواب الشعب عن حركة الشعب أن مرافقة رئيس الحكومة للوفد الصهيوني في تونس هو وصمة عار، مضيفاً في كلمة له في البرلمان أن الحكومة التونسية تقف صامتة أمام ما يحدث من ارتباطات لتونسيين بالكيان الصهيوني.

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Another Gaza Medic Killed On Duty By Israel As Society Asks, “Where Is The Justice?” — Rebel Voice

It was a difficult moment for the wife of Mohammad Al-Judaily when she heard that he had succumbed to his wounds. The paramedic was 37 years old when he was shot in the face by an Israeli sniper while providing first aid to participants in Gaza’s Great March of Return protests on 3 May.“At first,”… via […]

via Another Gaza Medic Killed On Duty By Israel As Society Asks, “Where Is The Justice?” — Rebel Voice

EU Blasted for Ever Closer Co-Operation with Terror Regime in Israel

By Stuart Littlewood
Source

 

Federica Mogherini visits Israel 66fe7

155 European Researchers and academics have delivered a stinging rebuke to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Science, Research & Innovation.

In a beautifully crafted letter they express the outrage felt throughout the world, and especially in European countries including the UK, at the EU’s policy of rewarding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel. Each new act of unspeakable brutality, each new onslaught of disproportionate force against civilians brings fresh privileges, fresh co-operation, fresh embraces from an enthusiastic EU elite.

Perhaps the most shameful thing about Europe’s relations with Israel is the EU-Israel Association Agreement which came into force in 2000. This is about special trading and other privileges and its purpose is to promote (1) peace and security, (2) shared prosperity through, for example, the creation of a free trade zone, and (3) cross-cultural rapprochement. It governs not only EU-Israel relations but Israel’s relations with the EU’s other Mediterranean partners, including the Palestinian National Authority.

To enjoy the Association’s privileges Israel undertook to show “respect for human rights and democratic principles” as set out as a general condition in Article 2, which says: “Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.

“Essential” being the operative word. Respecting human rights and democratic principles is not optional. Article 2 allows steps to be taken to enforce the contractual obligations regarding human rights and to dissuade partners from pursuing policies and practices that disrespect those rights. The Agreement also requires respect for self-determination of peoples and fundamental freedoms for all.

Well, that’s a joke for a start. Given Israel’s contempt for such principles the EU, had it been an honourable group, would have enforced Article 2 and not let matters slide. They would have suspended Israel’s membership until the regime fully complied. Israel relies heavily on exports to Europe so the EU could by now have forced an end to the brutal occupation of the Holy Land instead of always rewarding it.

The signatories to the letter to Mogherini and Moedas aptly quote the warning by Israel’s own human rights group B’Tselem: “If the international community does not come to its senses and force Israel to abide by the rules that are binding to every state in the world, it will pull the rug out from under the global effort to protect human rights in the post-WW2 era.

Here is that excellent letter:

To Ms. Federica Mogherini – High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
To Mr Carlos Moedas – European Commission, DG for Research and Innovation
Brussels, June 4, 2019

Re: Letter from European researchers and academics concerning Israel’s participation in Horizon Europe

Dear Ms. Federica Mogherini, Dear Mr. Moedas,

We researchers and academics from Europe are writing to you in order to express our deep concern about the participation of Israel and its military companies in EU Research Programs. While we write, new Israeli raids flare up and the smoldering remnant of Gaza protesters of the Great March of Return, already forgotten and forsaken. More than 270 unarmed civilians were killed during the March of return, including women, children and persons with disabilities and thousands more were injured [28.939, of whom 7.247 by live fire]. They were only demanding their rights enshrined in international law: end of the illegal blockade and for the right of return to their ancestral homes from which they were expelled.

A report of the United Nation’s Independent Commission of Inquiry published earlier this year concluded that the Israeli army might have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by indiscriminately killing health workers, journalists and unarmed protesters who did not pose any imminent threats to the soldiers.

Relentless violence rages again after 11 years of inhumane siege and three military assaults that shattered the fabric of normal life. Gaza is declared to be uninhabitable by 2020 according to a report by the UN, but this “environmentally defined” deadline reflects only the intentionality of an imposed series of emergencies, followed each time by a further decrease in health, energy, food independence and commerce after each episode of armed aggression since 2007.

The hermetic siege combined with the systematic large scale military destruction is slowly strangling nearly the two million inhabitants of Gaza. None of the basic civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and power plants, was ever sufficiently rebuilt after each of the three military assaults due to severe restrictions by the blockade. Electricity is available only a few hours a day, 98% of water is not drinkable, and many hospitals periodically stop functioning due to lack of medication, spare parts of machinery, electricity and fuel. Permission for patients to leave in order to receive life-saving treatment elsewhere has been continually declining in time. Tools for education, number of teachers, and rebuilding of schools are severely impaired. The inhabitants of Gaza have been consistently denied basic human rights and human dignity.

The disproportionate use of force on the civilians amounting to war crimes has also been systematic throughout all, long and short term, military operations, including the almost daily assaults to fishermen and agricultural workers.

These facts have been meticulously documented in authoritative reports by the UN and human rights organizations and widely condemned by the international community. Yet Israel’s policies of aggression and repression have continued.

This ongoing impunity is allowing Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison, to be used as a military testfield. In each offensive Israel deployed, tested and perfected new high-tech military weapons and surveillance systems. These new cutting edge high-tech products are exhibited and sold as “battle-tested”, an exclusive label Israeli home land security industry boasts. Israel became the world’s top arms exporter per capita.This grave violation of human rights is thus highly profitable for Israel’s war industry disclosing another side of the claim of “only self-defense” and the interests beyond the lack of measure in the aggressions on Palestinians of Gaza.

Nonetheless, in spite of continual and serious breaches of international law and violation of human rights, and regardless of the commitment for upholding human rights of European countries, Israel enjoys an exceptionally privileged status in dealing with Europe also through the Association Agreement and has been receiving grants from the European Commission in the area of research and innovation (FP7 and its successor Horizon 2020).

Funds are granted even to Israeli arms producers such as Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), the producers of lethal drones that were used in the Gaza military assaults against civilians, together with numerous academic institutions that have close ties with Israeli military industry.

We appeal to the European Union to impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, as long as Israel continues to blatantly violate human rights. We are deeply disturbed that public funds contributed by European tax payers are channeled to a country that not only disregards human rights but also uses most advanced knowledge and technology for the very violation of human rights. We believe that knowledge and innovation should serve progress in humanity and society, not to develop dual use or military research of a country that has a record history of grave human rights violations. This is not compatible with the values Europe upholds.

In 2017 more than 150 European trade unions, political parties, human rights organizations and faith groups from over 16 European countries issued a call urging the EU to uphold its legal responsibilities and exclude Israeli military companies from EU Framework Programs.

We support Amnesty International call for a military embargo on Israel issued last year following the attacks on the unarmed protesters of the Great March of Return using maiming bullets and brutal means by the Israeli army, unnecessary in that context.

Youth of Gaza appealed to you to stop funding Israeli manufacturers of weapons and surveillance system that guard their open-air prison, maimed them and destroyed their future. In support of their outcry we call upon European Union and European Commission to suspend the Association Agreement with Israel and exclude Israel as an eligible partner for Horizon Europe (successor of Horizon 2020), as long as it refuses to comply with the rules of international law. We also share the concern of B’Tselem, Israeli human rights organization, which stated “If the international community does not come to its senses and force Israel to abide by the rules that are binding to every state in the world, it will pull the rug out from under the global effort to protect human rights in the post-WWII era.”

Signatories*:

1.Dr. Nozomi Takahashi, Center for Inflammation Research, VIB-Ghent University, Belgium
2.Prof. Marc Van Ranst,Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Transplantation, KU Leuven,Belgium
3.Dr. Leander Meuris, Medical Biotechnology, VIB-Ghent University, Belgium
4.Prof. Tarek Meguid,
5.Prof. Em. John Dugard, Universities of Leiden and the Witwatersrand (UN Special Rapporteur onthe human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 2001-2008)
6.Prof. Em. Herman De Ley, Ghent University, Belgium
7.Dr. Andrea Balduzzi, Università di Genova, Italy
8.Prof.Giuliano Donzellini, University of Genua, Italy
9.Prof.Sergio Morra,University of Genua, Italy
10.Prof. Paolo Bartolini, University of Genua, Italy
11.Dr.Angela Waldegg, Austria
12.Prof. Salvatore Palidda,University of Genua, Italy
13.Andrea Sbarbaro,office worker (psychologist),University of Genua, Italy
14.Prof.Marcello Maneri, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
15.Dr.Syksy Räsäne, University of Helsinki, Finland
16.PhD. Prof. Haseeb Shehadeh, University of Helsinki, Finland
17.Paola Manduca, Former Associate Professor Genetics,University of Genoa, Italy
18.Prof. Em.Giorgio Forti, Unuversità degli Studi di Milkano, Italy
19.Adjunct Professor Pertti Multanen, University of Tampere, Finland
20.Dr. Angela Flynn, University College Cork, Ireland
21.Docente ordinario Giuseppe Mosconi, Università di Padova, Italy
22.Prof.Anna Boato, Uniiversità di Genova, Italy
23.Dr. Ronit Lentin, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland,
24.Mathias Urban, Desmond Chair of Early Childhood Education, Dublin City University, Ireland
25.Prof. Sancia Gaetani, Già Istituto Nazionale Nutrizione, Italy
26.James Roche, Lecturer,Technoligical University Dublin, Ireland
27.Prof. Angelo Baracca,University of Florence, Italy
28.Prof.Giorgio M. Giallocosta, University of Genoa, Italy
29.Prof PhD Alessandro Bianchi, Department Informatics – Univ. Bari, Italy
30.Em. Prof Elisabetta Donini, University of Turin, Italy
31.Prof. Luca Queirolo Palmas,University of Genoa, Italy
32.Rosella Franconi, Senior scientist, Italy
33.Pediatric surgeon Bruno Cigliano, University “Federico II” Naples-Italy
34.Prof. Vittorio Agnoletto,University of Milan, Italy
35.Em. Prof.Andrea Frova, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Physics Dept, Italy
36.Em. Prof. Mariapiera Marenzana, Ministry of Education, Italy
37.Massimo Di Rosa, Italy
38.Prof. Iain Chambers, University of Naples, “Orientale”, Italy
39.Dr. Paola Rivetti, Dublin City University, Ireland
40.Prof. Lidia Curti, University of Naples, Italy
41.Phd. Kati Juva, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland
42.Hessel Christiane, Epouse de l’Ambassadeur de France Stéphane Hessel, France
43.Phd. Bruno Lapauw, Ghent University, Belgium
44.Prof. Matthieu Lenoir, Ghent University, Belgium
45.Prof. Stef Craps, Ghent University, Belgium
46.Prof. Dr. De Baerdemaeker Luc, Ghent University, Belgium
47.Ana Cabal, University of Antwerp, Belgium
48.Dr. Kristina Mercelis, Belgium
49.Arch assistant. Geert Pauwels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
50.R. Van Laere, Royal academy for Archaeology of Belgium
51.Prof. Karel Arnaut, KU Leuven – IMMRC, Belgium
52.Prof. Dr.Willie van Peer, University of Munich, Austria
53.Prof. Dr. Em. Frans Daems,University of Antwerp, Belgium
54.Omar Jabary Salamanca, Ghent University, Belgium
55.Prof. Jan Delrue, KU Leuven University, Belgium
56.Em. Prof. Christian Kesteloot, KU Leuven University, Belgium
57.Prof. Em. Aviel Verbruggen, University of Antwerp, Belgium
58.Medical student Serhat Yildirim,Ghent University , Belgium
59.Prof. Emer. Piet Mertens, KU Leuven, Belgium
60.Associate Professor Nadia Fadil, KU Leuven, Belgium
61.Em. Prof. Dr. Patric Jacobs, Ghent University, Geology Deparment, Belgium
62.Honourary Professor Michel Vanhoorne, Ghent University, Belgium
63.Docent Jan Wyns, Belgium
64.Em. Prof. Marc David, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium
65.Prof. Pieter Rombouts, Ghent University, Belgium
66.Mireille Gleizes, Belgium
67.Dr. Barbara Van Dyck, University of Sussex, UK
68.Em. Prof. Claude Veraart, University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium
69.Professeur Honoraire Pierre Gillis, Université de Mons, Belgium
70.Researcher Patrick Italiano, University of Liege, Belgium
71.Professeur Ordinaire Honoraire André Gob, Université de Liège, Belgium
72.Researcher Jacques Moriau, ULB, Belgium
73.Philosopher Marc Vandepitte, Technische Scholen Mechelen, Belgium
74.Abdessalam Faraj, Belgium
75.PhD Gillet S. University of Namur, Belgium
76.Em. Prof. Mateo Alaluf, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
77.Prof. Em. Biesemans Monique, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
78.Em. Prof. Fred Louckx, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
79.Prof. Marc Jacquemain, University of Liege, Belgium
80.Prof. Germain Marc, Université de Lille, France
81.Professeur-chercheur Lucienne Strivay, Université de Liège, Belgium
82.Prof. Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, Ghent University, Belgium
83.Researcher Andrew Crosby, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
84.Prof. Bert Cornillie, KU Leuven, Belgium
85.Docent Dario Giugliano, Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli, Italy
86.Prof. de Beer Daniel, Université Saint-Louis, Belgium
87.Researcher M Louise Carels, Université de Liège, Belgium
88.Prof. Victor Ginsburgh, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
89.Em. Prof. Heinz D. Hurwitz, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
90.M.A. Maria Aurora De Angelis, SOAS University of London, UK
91.Dr. Jef Peeters, KU Leuven, Belgium
92.Em. Prof. Magda Devos, University of Ghent, Belgium
93.Em. Prof. Norbert Van den Bergh, Gent University, Belgium
94.Em. Prof. Stefan Kesenne, University of Antwerp, Belgium
95.Prof. Dr. Em. Madeline Lutjeharms, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
96.Marie Scheirlinck, Belgium
97.Koen Verrept, VUB, Belgium
98.Prof. Roberto Beneduce, University of Turin, Italy
99.Prof. Patricia Willson, Université de Liège, Belgium
100.Em. Prof. Christiane Schomblond, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
101.Em. Prof. Florimond De Smedt, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
102.Professeur Honoraire Mormont Marc, Université de Liège, Belgium
103.Dr. Zahidi, University of Antwerpen, Belgium
104.PhD Leena Saraste, Finland
105.Em. Prof. P. Marage, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
106.Em. Prof. Michel Gevers, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
107.Senior Research Associate Giselle Corradi, Ghent University, Belgium
108.Tiziana Terranova, Italy
109.Honorary Prof. Albert Martens, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
110.Em. Prof. Vandermotten Christian, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
111.Prof. Jean-Claude Gregoire, Université libre de Bruxeles, Belgium
112.Researcher Xavier May, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
113.Dr. Duez Colette, University of Liege, Belgium
114.Phd Tanneke Herklots, the Netherlands,
115.Em. Prof. Marc De Meyere, Gent University, Belgium

116. Researcher Antonio Mazzeo, Italy 
117. Prof. Michele Carducci, UniSalento – Lecce, Italy 
118. Prof. Carine Defoort, KU Leuven, Belgium 
119. Dr. Chiara Cardelli, Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum
Information Vienna, Austria 
120. Prof. Em. Pieter Saey, Gent University, Belgium 
121. Independent scholar Celeste Ianniciello, Italy 
122. Em. Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, UK 
123. Prof. Dr. Em. Erik Van der Straeten, Belgium 
124. Prof. James Dickins, University of Leeds, UK 
125. Dr. Tajul Islam, University of Leeds, UK 
126. Dr. Barry Heselwood, University of Leeds, UK 
127. Patrik Lasure, Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Belgium 
128. Wim Nerinckx, Belgium 
129. René Weemaels, Belgium 
130. André Posman, Belgium 
131. Technician Kelly Lemeire, University of Ghent, Belgium 
132. Em. Prof. Schomblond Christiane, Université Libre de Bruxelles,
Belgium 
133. Dr. Gie Van Den Berghe, University Gent, Belgium 
134. Rasha Soliman, University of Leeds, UK 
135. Simona Antonova, UMC Utrecht, the Netherlands 
136. PhD Michail Mamantopoulos, Belgium 
137. Dr. Tom Moerenhout, Graduate Institute of International and
Development Studies, Switzerland 
138. Prof. Dirk Vandermeulen, KU Leuven, Belgium 
139. Em. Prof. Heinz Hurwitz, Université Libre Bruxelles, Belgium 
140. Sénateur Honoraire Galand Pierre, Belgium 
141. Prof. Megan Povey, University of Leeds, UK 
142. Branch President UCL UCU Sean Wallis, University College London,
UK 
143. Dr. M Akhtar, University of Leeds, UK 
144. Tom Hickey, University of Brighton, UK 
145. Dr. Karen Evans, University of Liverpool, UK 
146. Dr. Anne Alexander, University of Cambridge, UK 
147. Dr Anandi Ramamurthy, Sheffield Hallam University, UK 
148. Prof. Franco Montanari, University of Genoa, Italy 
149. Dr. Stephanie Kourula, Belgium 
150. Em. Prof. Chris Roberts, University of Manchester, UK 
151. Researcher- PhD student Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau, Spain

152. Tica Font, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau, Spain 

153. Researcher Edgard Vega, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau, Spain 
154. Ph Dr. Retired Assistant Professor Xavier Bohigas, Uinversitat
Politècnica de Catalunya, Catalonia-Spain 
155. Prof. Jan Dumolyn, University of Ghent, Belgium

* Institutions are added for identification purposes only. All signatories have signed the letter in a personal capacity

SMOKING GUN? FALSE FLAG? U.S. RELEASES VIDEO ALLEGEDLY SHOWING IRAN’S MINE ON TANKER HULL

https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2-1.mp4?_=1

Just hours after remarks blaiming Iran for the recent incident in the Gulf of Oman by US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, Central Command issued a statement claiming that it has evidence confirming these accusations. The statement claimed that Iranian forces were spotted removing “a probable unexploded limpet mine” from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

The video released by Central Command shows a boat coming up to the side of the tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and removes some object from the tanker’s hull. The US says that the object is likely an unexploded mine.

The full text of Central Command statement:

“U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time from the motor tanker (M/T) Altair and a second one at 7a.m. local time from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls. USS Bainbridge was approximately 40 nautical miles away from the M/T Altair at the time of the attack, and immediately began closing the distance.

At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair.

At 9:12 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observes the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the M/T Altair from the water.

At 9:26 a.m. local time the Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the M/T Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian FIACs.

At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.

While the Hendijan patrol boat appeared to attempt to get to the tug Coastal Ace before USS Bainbridge, the mariners were rescued by USS Bainbridge at the request of the master of the M/T Kokuka Courageous. The rescued sailors are currently aboard USS Bainbridge.

At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.

The U.S. and our partners in the region will take all necessary measures to defend ourselves and our interests.  Today’s attacks are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce.

The U.S. and the international community, stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation.

The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.

– attributable to Capt. Bill Urban, Lead Spokesman for U.S. Central Command”

Smoking Gun? False Flag? U.S. Releases Video Allegedly Showing Iran's Mine On Tanker Hull

Click to see the full-size image

Smoking Gun? False Flag? U.S. Releases Video Allegedly Showing Iran's Mine On Tanker Hull

Click to see the full-size image

While the statement seems to be pretty anti-Iranian, in fact, the US appears to be have no evidence to confirm that the supposed “mine” was Iranian. Bloomberg:

Senior administration officials said that at least one of the ships was attacked by mines. In a briefing with reporters, they showed a photo of a tanker, the Courageous, with a hole in its side caused by a mine that exploded, they said, and an undetonated mine lodged inside.

The officials said they didn’t know for sure whether the mines were Iranian. The U.S. concluded that Iran was responsible for the attacks based on intelligence sources and the absence of any better explanation, the officials said. They declined to elaborate on the intelligence sources.

On June 14, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Washington should stop playing a blame game through “suspicious” attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, describing the US behavior as “worrying”.

The suspicious nature of incidents for oil tankers is not a joke. It is not only not funny, but it is also worrying and alarming,” Mousavi said in a statement.

The US and its allies have just got a fresh formal pretext for further economic and maybe even military agression against Iran. Who may have been interested in this?

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