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Iran Says It Chased Off US Spy Plane During Large-Scale Hormuz Exercises

On Friday the AFP reported on some surprising statement from Iran’s military, which however remains unconfirmed from the US side:

The Iranian navy on Friday said it drove off American aircraft that flew close to an area where military exercises were underway near the Strait of Hormuz.

US Navy P-8A Poseidon, file image via Boeing

Specifically it was claimed that three total American aircraft, including a P-8 spy plane, a MQ-9 drone and a RQ-4 drone, were caught entering Iran’s air defense identification zone and were picked up by their radar.

Iran’s navy claimed that after “ignoring warnings by Iran’s defense systems to keep away from the drill zone” the American planes were tracked by an Iranian drone before “they changed course and left the zone.”

The Iranians are in the midst of three-day “Zolfaghar 99” exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil transit point, with the drills stretching into the Indian Ocean.

Despite Washington’s maximum pressure campaign still intense as ever in the form of sanctions, the kind of direct conflict witnessed early this year with the killing of the IRGC’s Qassem Soleimani has been largely absent this summer.

Iranian Fotros drone, via state media

Recall that days following the US drone strike on the elite commander while exiting the Baghdad airport, Iran responded with major missile strikes on US bases in Iraq, which in a sense remained “the final word” on the matter.

Likely not wanting to escalate things to a full-blown war, the Trump administration did not retaliate for the missile attack, which reportedly left dozens of US troops with concussion type injuries.

Iran Conducts Annual War Drill To Thwart “Foreign Threats And Possible Invasion”

Adding to the regional instabilities in the Gulf of Oman, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway, the Iranian military launched its annual three-day naval exercise on Thursday.

Iranian commander Admiral Habibollah Sardari, who is leading the drills, told Iranian state TV that the exercise would allow the military to thwart future “foreign threats and any possible invasion.”

Reuters notes the exercise is being conducted in the eastern side of the strait in the Gulf of Oman, a hot spot that was the site of last year’s tanker attacks.

The annual exercise, dubbed as Zolfaghar-99, will include naval, air, and ground forces. The drill will also include warships, submarines, fighter jets, and unmanned aerial systems.

The location of the exercise is situated near the world’s most important oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, which has large volumes of oil that flow through the strait via tankers, accounting for about 30% of all the world’s oil traded in a given year.

Tensions have risen between Tehran and Washington this summer, mostly after Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard blew up a replica aircraft carrier in the strait.

Then in August, the Iranian Navy briefly boarded a Liberian-flagged oil tanker. The area has also seen a rise in Iran threatening oil tankers and US warships.

Ahead of the war drill, we noted last week how Iran’s state-controlled Afkar News saying that “American Soil Is Now Within the Range of Iranian Bombs.” The report bragged about the damage that the Iranian military could inflict on the Western powers:

“By sending a military satellite into space, Iran now has shown that it can target all American territory; the Iranian parliament had previously warned [the US] that an electromagnetic nuclear attack on the United States would likely kill 90 percent of Americans.”

With Iran increasingly flouting its military strength ahead of the election, tensions between Tehran and Washington will continue to rise.

Tanker Operators Suspend Travel Through Strait Of Hormuz

Tanker Operators Suspend Travel Through Strait Of Hormuz

Following Iran’s decision to lob missiles at US-Iraqi bases last night, several major tanker operators have suspended sailing through the Straits of Hormuz, the site of several tanker attacks last year.

Petrobras, Bahri – Saudi Arabia’s state-run tanker operator – and other tanker companies have suspended sailing through the Straits of Hormuz, WSJ reports, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, Gulf officials are already trying to convince the world that there’s nothing to worry about in what’s essentially a tinderbox inside another tinderbox. United Arab Emirates’ Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said on Wednesday he saw no immediate risk to oil passing through the critical gateway through which 20% of the global supply of crude travels. al-Mazrouei made the comments on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

The source of their concerns is clear: Iran carried out its “retaliation” for the killing of General Suleimani last night – though the Pentagon has confirmed that there have been no American casualties from Iran’s strikes. However, many fear that Iran isn’t finished with its retaliation. 

Mazrouei added that OPEC was not discussing any precautionary steps at the moment, but would re-evaluate the situation if a supply shortage emerged, according to Reuters. He said earlier that the global oil market was well supplied.

Oil prices initially moved higher after last night’s attacks, but prices have since settled, and the market largely ignored the news about the tanker suspensions, as it was already largely priced in.

On Tuesday, Washington warned about “the possibility of Iranian action against US maritime interests” in the Middle East.

“U.S. commercial vessels are advised to exercise caution and coordinate vessel voyage planning for transits of the Persian Gulf and nearby waterways,” the U.S. Maritime Administration said in a statement on its website.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Japan To Send Its Own Military Force To Strait Of Hormuz

Japan To Send Its Own Military Force To Strait Of Hormuz

Ever since the new round of ‘tanker wars’ began in Strait of Hormuz in mid-June with a mysterious mine attack on multiple tankers, one involving a Japanese-owned ship, Tokyo has reportedly mulled sending a Japanese defense force to the area to help protect vital shipping lanes. 

In a rare move, the pacifist nation appears ready to pull the trigger, as FT reports, citing chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, who indicated that “the government was planning to deploy forces in a region where a Japanese tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, was recently attacked with a limpet mine.”

Japanese Defense Forces file image.

Japan’s Asahi newspaper also reported that the self-defense troop deployment to the vital Persian Gulf passage way comes “instead of joining the U.S.-coalition”.

Japan had been among many US allies urged to assist in forming a US-led maritime security patrol — a plan which many feared would only exacerbate tensions with Iran, only leading to war. In not joining the US-led security mission, Tokyo is ensuring it won’t damage important economic ties with Iran.

FT describes what such a Japanese expedition will likely involve:

A Japanese expedition would probably involve ships and aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force. [Chief Cabinet Secretary] Mr Suga said its operations would be limited to international waters in the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Bab al-Mandab strait.

He said the dispatch would take place under provisions of Japanese law allowing for military information gathering and research. The pacifist constitution tightly proscribes how Japan can deploy its military and any ships it sends would use force only in self-defense.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Emirati-Flagged Ship Seized By Iran In Strait Of Hormuz On Suspicion Of Smuggling Diesel

Emirati-Flagged Ship Seized By Iran In Strait Of Hormuz On Suspicion Of Smuggling Diesel

Following reports that it’s planning to release a UK-flagged oil tanker that it seized two months ago, Iran has reportedly seized a UAE-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday and detained its 11-member crew.

The IRGC, which was responsible for seizing the vessel, accused it of smuggling diesel. The ship was reportedly carrying 250,000 liters of diesel when it was captured, along with 30 handheld flares, which are sometimes used for facilitating clandestine transfers at sea.

The ship’s crew are reportedly being held in the coastal city of Bandar Lengeh, though it’s unclear where their ship is being held.

“The ship was seized nearly 20 miles to the east of Greater Tunb with 11 seamen onboard while heading to the Arab United Emirate,” IRGC general Ali Azmaei told Iranian media.

The capture was initially reported by Iran’s FARS news agency, according to a tweet by Al Arabiya, a Saudi news organization.


وكالة فارس الإيرانية تنقل عن الحرس الثوري احتجاز سفينة بذريعة “تهريب الديزل” #العربية_عاجل https://www.alarabiya.net


Amid all the drama at home, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Ankara for a meeting with the presidents of Turkey and Russia on Monday.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Deploys 2 Warships To Escort Commercial Vessels As Zarif Flies To Beijing After G-7

Iran Deploys 2 Warships To Escort Commercial Vessels As Zarif Flies To Beijing After G-7

The threshold to an armed conflict around the Persian Gulf just got even smaller.

On Monday, Iran said it had deployed two warships – a destroyer and a helicopter carrier – to protect the country’s commercial vessels around the Gulf of Aden, located between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, and Persian Gulf region amid a growing US-driven military build-up in the volatile region, which recently culminated with several tanker seizures on both sides, the navy times reports.

Iran’s brand new destroyer Sahand and the supply ship/replenishment carrier Kharg whiuch has a helicopter pad and services as lositics support,  were deployed to the Gulf of Aden and Sea of Oman and tasked with escorting ships in international waters.

The “Sahand” commissioned in December 2018, is Iran’s most advanced home-made warship. It has a stealth hull and can travel a further than the previous class destroyers without refueling. It is equipped with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles as well as anti-aircraft batteries and radar and radar evading capabilities.

Iranian naval forces attend a Dec. 1 inauguration ceremony for the destroyer Sahand, in Bandar Abbas, Iran

Tehran’s decision to escort its cargo vessels comes at a time of escalating tensions in the Gulf, with US and UK warships operating in and around the Persian Gulf under the “defensive” premise that Iran is the aggressor behind June’s attacks on two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Accusing Tehran of ‘sponsoring terrorism’ and running a secret nuclear program, Washington has beefed up its military in the region with more troops and hardware, including an aircraft carrier and bombers.

In early July, the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya, previously known as Grace 1, was seized off the coast of Gibraltar for allegedly carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Smoke Will Rise From Tel Aviv”: Iran Warns Israel Against Joining US Maritime Coalition

“Smoke Will Rise From Tel Aviv”: Iran Warns Israel Against Joining US Maritime Coalition

The same day that Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a formal statement warning that any Israeli involvement in the proposed US-led joint maritime coalition in the Gulf is a “clear threat” to Iran’s national security, a separate statement from a senior government official has threatened war would engulf Israel should it send boats into the Strait of Hormuz.

Senior Advisor to the Iranian Parliament, Speaker Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said Friday that “smoke will rise from Tel Aviv” should Israel joint the United States’ maritime patrol in the gulf.

Image source: AFP

“If Israel enters the Strait of Hormuz, it will be engulfed in the wrath of the region and its smoke will rise from Tel Aviv,” the senior official threatened in a statement posted on Twitter.

According to Reuters, Israeli media had quoted Foreign Minister Israel Katz early in the week as confirming discussions were underway among top defense officials over possibly joining a US maritime protection initiative in the Persian Gulf.

Israel’s role could come down to intelligence-sharing, however, given the explosive potential for conflict should its forces actually deploy in the region. Israeli officials have yet to confirm nor deny the reports. 

Abdollahian’s statement explained further: “Iran has a vital role in the security of the Strait of Hormuz. Any US-led military coalition in the strait is a repetition of Iraq and Afghanistan occupation and escalation of insecurity in the region.”

Iran’s leaders have repeatedly warned that only its forces can secure the vital narrow oil shipping waterway, and have said stepped up western patrols will only destabilize the region. 

The Foreign Ministry has warned this week that Iran’s military reserves the right to “counter this threat and defend its territory,” while referring to any hostile foreign powers on or near its territory. 

Iran Seizes Foreign Oil Tanker Accused Of Smuggling Fuel

Iran Seizes Foreign Oil Tanker Accused Of Smuggling Fuel

In what will be seen as another escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on July 31, adding to rising concerns about the safety of shipping in a region crucial to oil exports.

The vessel – the third foreign ship seized by Iran in the Gulf since July 14 in response to a UK seizure of Iran’s own ship – is suspected of smuggling a large volume of fuel, the Guards said on their Sepah News portal according to Bloomberg. They did not, however, give any details about the flag or nationality of the ship or its operator.

The ship’s seizure took place last Wednesday, Sepah News, the Revolutionary Guard’s official news service, reported, a day after United Arab Emirates officials traveled to Iran to discuss maritime border cooperation and the flow of shipping traffic, including illegal movements.

The ship was carrying 700,000 liters (4,403 barrels) of smuggled fuel when it was seized near Farsi Island in the western part of the Gulf, off Iran’s southwestern coast, Sepah News reported. The island is located about 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the Strait of Hormuz, the volatile center of Iran’s standoff with the West in recent weeks. Iran’s state-run Press TV reported that the seized ship is an Iraqi tanker that was delivering the fuel to some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian state news agency IRNA reported that a video of the moment the vessel was seized showed it was Iraqi, although as the WSJ notes, maritime confrontations between Iran and Iraq are considered rare. The Iraqi ship’s seizure would follow July’s visit to Tehran by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who has sought to ease tensions between the U.S. and Iran, both close allies of Iraq.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Slams “Hostile Message” As 2nd UK Warship Arrives In Crowded Gulf

Iran Slams “Hostile Message” As 2nd UK Warship Arrives In Crowded Gulf

On the same day the large British warship HMS Duncan arrived in the Persian Gulf to assist the MHS Montrose in providing safety escorts to UK-flagged ships against the threat of Iranian seizure in the vital oil transit waterway, Tehran has again slammed the UK-led initiative of a joint European fleet patrolling the region. 

An Iranian government spokesman warned on Sunday that a joint European task force operating so close to Iran’s coast “sends a hostile message” and is “provocative and will increase tensions,” according to semi-official Fars News Agency. The rhetoric is nothing new; however what is new and poses immense danger for the prospect of stumbling toward major conflict is the frequency of US and UK warships’ movement in the increasingly “crowded” narrow Strait of Hormuz

.@HMSDuncan has arrived in the Gulf, where she will support the safe passage of British-flagged ships along with @HMS_MONTROSE, which has already accompanied 35 merchant vessels. Read more: http://ow.ly/5zQn50vegZY 

View image on Twitter
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View image on Twitter

Britain’s controversial call for a “European-led maritime protection mission”quickly gained the support last week of keyEU nations France and Germany, with Denmark and The Netherlands also joining the initiative. 

The BBC reports that the HMS Montrose has thus far escorted 35 vessels through the strait, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The larger HMS Duncan frigate will further join what Britain has dubbed “freedom of navigation” operations not just for UK vessels but “also our international partners and allies,” according Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

This as London has kept up pressure for the release of the still impounded Stena Impero, and after Iran’s leaders last week appeared to offer an “exchange” of vessels of sorts, demanding the release of the Grace 1, which had been seized by Royal Marines early this month off Gibraltar. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Announces Military Will “Secure” Contested Strait Of Hormuz

Iran Announces Military Will “Secure” Contested Strait Of Hormuz

Hopefully it doesn’t lead to a let’s roll! moment at the White House, where super-hawk national security adviser John Bolton has no doubt been itching for escalation: moments ago Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister announced military forces will “secure” the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran will “not allow disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi was quoted as saying in state media, while leading a delegation to Paris, Reuters reports. However, it’s unclear at this point how far Iran is willing to go in this escalating game of chicken with the US and UK – both of which have warships and other military assets in the gulf region. 

Image source: AP

Iran will use its best efforts to secure the region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz, and will not allow any disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area,” Araqchi told French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a meeting.

The announcement comes amidst threats and counter threats ongoing between London and Tehran, with each demanding the release of their tanker. Early this month the Royal Navy seized the Grace 1, carrying 2 million barrels of oil, off Gibraltar; and in turn Iran last Friday captured the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz. 

To be sure, this is not the first time Iran has made such a threat: back in April and before that in December Iran warned it would close the global oil chokepoint, when it said that “if someday, the United States decides to block Iran’s oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.”

Meanwhile, Iranian vice-president, Eshaq Jahangiri, said that Iran rejects UK-led attempts to establish a “joint European task force” to monitor and patrol the Persian Gulf in order to protect international shipping, countering that it would only bring “insecurity”.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Holds Crisis Meeting After Tanker Seizure As Armed Aircraft Protects US Cargo Ship In Gulf

UK Holds Crisis Meeting After Tanker Seizure As Armed Aircraft Protects US Cargo Ship In Gulf

British officials are scrambling after two UK tankers were captured by Iran in one dramatic day in the gulf — or rather we should clarify that the Stena Impero is UK flagged but not owned by a UK company (the owner ‘Stena Bulk’ is based in Sweden), while the Mesdar is Liberian flagged but is in fact owned by a UK company.

However, Iranian state media is denying that the Liberian flagged, UK-owned tanker captured is still being held, with new reports it’s been released, per the following wire updates: 

Norbulk Shipping UK says Liberian registered vessel Mesdar was boarded by armed personnel at approximately 17:30 BST on Friday.

…Norbulk says armed guards have left and the vessel is now free to continue to voyage, crew safe and well.   

The two tankers seized Friday, via The Telegraph.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt voiced that Britain is “extremely concerned” by the “unacceptable” seizure of the two vessels IRGC forces in the Strait of Hormuz. “I will shortly attend a COBR meeting to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels,” he said in reference to a Cabinet Office Briefing Room meeting over the major crisis, which is equivalent to the National Security Council’s ‘situation room’ meetings. 

“Their crews comprise a range of nationalities, but we understand there are no British citizens on board either ship,” Hunt continued, according to the AP. “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.”

Meanwhile the UK Chamber of Shipping also said it “condemn unreservedly” the capture of the British-owned vessel, but it remains unclear the precise order of the pair of tankers’ capture.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Strait Outta Hormuz

Strait Outta Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz these days seems to be what the streets of Compton used to be in the 90s. Yesterday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it has seized a “foreign vessel” for smuggling fuel. And this morning, news came in that the US has shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, after it allegedly threatened a US warship. About a fifth of global daily oil consumption (c. 21 million barrels) passes through the Strait each day. Moreover, tensions between the US and Iran are more likely to increase than not (don’t forget Iran also shot down a US drone last month). So don’t expect a smooth ride for oil prices this summer.

From the Strait of Hormuz, to back to Europe. According to Bloomberg sources, ECB staff is looking into potentially reforming its inflation target from “below, but close to 2%” to perhaps a policy band around 2%. Such a band would explicitly make the inflation target symmetric (something President Draghi favours), which means that the ECB can better signal willingness to overshoot the target for a short while. As such, it can reinforce inflation expectations if it is seen as a signal of more (or a prolonged period of) loose monetary policy. However, our ECB watcher Bas van Geffen cautions that the risk of such a symmetric band is that the market could also interpret the lower bound as ‘good enough’, especially if inflation keeps undershooting the ECB’s aim. Suppose the band is 0.5%. This implies the ECB might target an inflation rate of 2.5%, but it also implies that an inflation rate of 1.5% is within the ECB’s target band. Hooray, the ECB has achieved its inflation target by simply changing the definition of the target. What does that mean for its credibility? To avoid that situation, a symmetric band should probably be accompanied by more stimulus to rekindle inflation expectations.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Navy Shoots Down Iranian Drone Over Strait Of Hormuz: Trump

US Navy Shoots Down Iranian Drone Over Strait Of Hormuz: Trump

President Trump announced on Thursday that the amphibious assault ship, the USS Boxer, shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz in a defensive action.

Replying to @tictoc

MORE: Trump said that the Iranian drone’s actions were “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran”

Operators of the drone refused calls to stand down, after which it was “immediately destroyed,” when it came within 1,000 yards of the ship according to the president, “threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew.” 

Via Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg

Trump has called on “other nations to protect their ships as they go through the Strait. 

Downed Iranian drone from 2015 incident

 

The comments come as tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high over a spate of attacks on cargo ships, the downing of an American drone and the British seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil. Earlier in the day, the U.S. condemned Iranian naval activity in the Persian Gulf and demanded the Islamic Republic release a small tanker and its crew that its forces seized this week. A State Department official who asked not to be identified discussing the issue cited the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ “continued harassment” of vessels in and around the Strait. -Bloomberg

Oil futures jumped a bit on the news, climbing 34 cents a barrel to reel in some of the day’s 2.6% loss. 

As we noted earlier in the day, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it has seized a foreign vessel with 12-crew members carrying one million barrels of oil. In an official Iranian media statement, the country’s military asserted the tanker was caught “smuggling” the fuel through the Strait of Hormuz

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Seizes Foreign Tanker “Smuggling” Fuel In The Gulf

Iran Seizes Foreign Tanker “Smuggling” Fuel In The Gulf

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) says it has seized a foreign vessel with 12-crew members carrying one million barrels of oil. In an official Iranian media statement early on Thursday, the country’s military asserted the tanker was caught “smuggling” the fuel through the Strait of Hormuz

While details to the breaking story remain confused, with some early reports speculating it could be reference to the Riah tanker which since the past weekend disappeared as it drifted toward Iranian waters in the Strait of Hormuz, what is clear is that Tehran is ramping up the pressure, perhaps now making good on its longtime threat to cut off global shipping through the vital oil passageway

Illustrative image: tanker in the Persian Gulf. 

A foreign vessel smuggling one million liters of fuel in the Lark Island of the Persian Gulf has been seized,” state run ISNA said, adding that the ship was seized on Sunday. 

This was the same day Iran had claimed to have “rescued” the UAE-owned, Panamanian-flagged Riah as it was in need of repairs due to technical problems, however, neither Iran’s military nor media identified the seized vessel or its country in initial statements. 

Iran’s Press TV has issued the following details in a breaking statement

The incident took place to the south of the Iranian Lark Island on Sunday.

IRGC naval forces, which were patrolling the waters on an anti-smuggling mission, acted against the vessel in a “surprise” operation upon ascertaining the nature of its cargo and securing the required legal approval from Iranian authorities.

The ship had loaded the fuel from Iranian dhows and was about to hand it over to other foreign vessels in farther waters. The vessel, which had 12 foreign crewmembers aboard at the time of the mission, is capable of carrying two million liters of fuel.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Denies Trying To Seize UK Tanker In Persian Gulf After Military Close Encounter

Iran Denies Trying To Seize UK Tanker In Persian Gulf After Military Close Encounter

Update:

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) denied reports that their patrol boats tried to stop a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, with IRGC’s naval unit stating that “there were no encounters between the Iranian warships and foreign vessels at the time when the incident is alleged to have taken place,” according to Fars News.

The IRGC also reiterated that they are prepared to “act swiftly and decisively” should they receive an order to capture any foreign ship.

London said three Iranian patrol boats attempted to stop its oil tanker, ‘British Heritage,’ as it was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz to the Persian Gulf. According to the British government statement, the Iranian vessels were forced to back away after receiving a warning from the Royal Navy frigate, HMS ‘Monrose,’ which was escorting another tanker in the area.

As reported previously, tensions between Tehran and London escalated last week when the Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police seized a Panama-flagged and Singapore-owned supertanker near the Strait of Gibraltar. The ship was suspected of transporting oil to Syria in violation of the EU sanctions on Damascus.

* * *

Earlier:

With the Persian Gulf uncharacteristically quiet in recent days, without any material provocation either real of staged, late on Wednesday CNN reported that three armed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. There was no independent verification of the report, but instead it was once again sourced to those who stands to gain the most from a way with Iran, namely “two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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