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The US, Israel & The Middle East

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RUSSIA TURNED ITS BACK ON IRAN IN SYRIA — AND NOW ISRAEL IS IN CHARGE || WARTHOG 2018
Warthog Defense


Published on May 17, 2018
Russia on Friday reportedly declined to export its advanced S-300 missile defense system to Syria. A bunch of Syrian air defenses reportedly were destroyed by Israel on Wednesday, but Russia still declined. The developments indicate Russia may have turned its back on protecting Iranians, who were the targets of the Israeli airstrikes on Wednesday night. Now, undefended Iranian forces in Syria are at the mercy of Israel, who seems capable of striking when and where it likes, despite Iran being Russia's ally.

By: Alex Lockie

http://www.businessinsider.com/russia...
 

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Saudi-Led Coalition Destroys Houthi Boats Targeting Tanker in Red Sea
May 23, 2018 by Reuters



St. George ship carrying 29,520 tonnes of wheats is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad




DUBAI, May 23 (Reuters) – A Saudi-led military coalition foiled attacks by explosives-laden speedboats deployed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement against commercial vessels, including an oil tanker, in the Red Sea, Saudi and Emirati state media said on Wednesday.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) state news agency WAM reported that UAE coalition forces had destroyed two boats “which were threatening a commercial oil tanker” in the Red Sea. Two other Houthi boats escaped, it added.

Later Saudi state news channel al-Ekhbariya said that remote-controlled speedboats rigged with explosives had tried to attack three commercial vessels being escorted by two coalition warships, but that coalition forces had foiled the attack and destroyed three speedboats.

Neither the Houthis nor a coalition spokesman could immediately be reached for comment.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Sunni Muslim allies have been fighting in Yemen for three years against the Houthis, a Shi’ite group that controls much of North Yemen including the capital Sanaa, and drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

The Houthis, who are aligned with the Middle East’s pre-eminent Shi’ite power Iran, have fired missiles into Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition has carried out a campaign of thousands of airstrikes and restricted imports into Yemen, worsening what the United Nations says is potentially the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The coalition says one of the main justifications for its intervention is to protect shipping routes such as the Red Sea, which is used to bring Middle Eastern oil and Asian goods to Europe through the Suez canal.

The Saudi and Emirati TV reports did not mention whether any of the ships had been damaged in the incident, nor did they provide any identifying details about the commercial vessels.

Last month, a Saudi oil tanker was hit off Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, suffering limited damage, in what coalition forces said was an attack by the Houthis. The Houthis said they had targeted a coalition warship.

(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous and Katie Paul Editing by Dale Hudson, William Maclean and Peter Graff)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/saudi-led-coalition-destroys-houthi-boats-targeting-tanker-in-red-sea/
 

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Missile Struck Turkish Ship Off Yemen, EU NAVFOR Official Says
May 23, 2018 by Reuters



Damage to the Turkish-flagged bulk carrier Ince Inebolu after last weeks missile attack.



By Jonathan Saul LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) – A Turkish vessel carrying wheat to Yemen this month was hit by a rocket or missile and more attacks on merchant ships are likely due to a spillover of the conflict, a senior European naval official said on Wednesday.

The Turkish flagged Ince Inebolu bulk carrier was damaged by an explosion on May 10, some 70 miles off the Red Sea port of Salif where it was due to deliver a 50,000 tonne cargo of Russian wheat.

“The assessment at the moment is it was almost certainly non-state Yemen based actors firing a land-based missile or rocket at the vessel,” Major Tom Mobbs, head of intelligence and security with the European Union’s counter piracy mission EU Navfor, told Reuters.

“It has sharpened the focus in our mind with this happening.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Sunni Muslim allies have been fighting in Yemen for three years against the Houthis, a Shi’ite group that controls much of North Yemen including the capital Sanaa, and drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

The Houthis, who are aligned with the Middle East’s pre-eminent Shi’ite power Iran, have fired missiles into Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition has carried out a campaign of thousands of airstrikes and restricted imports into Yemen, worsening what the United Nations says is potentially the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Mobbs declined to comment on whether the attack on the Turkish ship was carried out by Houthis, adding “that is the natural speculation”.

The ship’s owner Ince Shipping Group said in an emailed statement to Reuters that the vessel had been “hit by an unidentified missile while she was waiting for coalition forces” to give clearance to proceed to the port.

Mobbs said international merchant shipping was “unlikely to be deliberately targeted”.

“Clearly the events show the risk of misidentification and collateral damage,” he said in the sidelines of the launch of a report by the non-profit group Oceans Beyond Piracy.

The Saudi-led coalition says one of the main justifications for its intervention is to protect shipping routes through the narrow Bab al-Mandab waterway, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, through which nearly 4 million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United states and Asia plus commercial goods.

Saudi and Emirati state media said on Wednesday that the Saudi-led coalition had foiled attacks in the Red Sea by explosives-laden speedboats deployed by Houthis against commercial vessels, including an oil tanker.

Last month, a Saudi oil tanker was hit off Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, suffering limited damage, in what coalition forces said was an attack by the Houthis. The Houthis said they had targeted a coalition warship.

The worsening situation prompted the international shipping industry in January to issue guidance to mariners of the multiple threats including missiles, sea mines and water-borne improvised explosives devices.

“The same set of circumstances that are prompting these attacks are unlikely to go away, certainly in the near future. So, the attacks will continue,” Mobbs said.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/missile-struck-turkish-ship-off-yemen-eu-navfor-official-says/
 

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Dozens of Palestinians are injured by Israeli gunfire and tear gas as thousands protest in Gaza by burning tyres and firing slingshots at troops

  • Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire
  • To demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war
  • Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5774095/Dozens-Palestinians-injured-Israeli-gunfire-tear-gas-Gaza-border-protests.html#ixzz5GbtRLGLD
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
 

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Dozens of Palestinians are injured by Israeli gunfire and tear gas as thousands protest in Gaza by burning tyres and firing slingshots at troops

  • Protests along the border reached a peak on May 14 when Gaza medical sources said at least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire
  • To demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost to Israel during its founding in a 1948 war
  • Protesters dispersed as dusk fell to prepare to break their daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5774095/Dozens-Palestinians-injured-Israeli-gunfire-tear-gas-Gaza-border-protests.html#ixzz5GbtRLGLD
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Israel is making more friends every day. Seriously, when is the world going to wake up and take back the world from the Zionists? And what's this about American Congress critters holding dual (Israeli) citizenship? Revoke their American citizenship and send them on a free helicopter ride to oblivion!
 

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U.S. Alarmed By Strike on Turkish Ship Delivering Wheat to Yemen
May 27, 2018 by Reuters



The Turkish-flagged bulk carrier MV Ince Inebolu. Photo: MarineTraffic.com /



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Friday it was “alarmed” by a Houthi missile strike on a Turkish vessel carrying wheat to Yemen this month and urged the Shi’ite group to work with the United Nations to alleviate Yemenis suffering.

The Turkish-flagged Ince Inebolu bulk carrier was damaged by an explosion on May 10, 70 miles (110 km) off the Red Sea port of Salif where it was due to deliver a 50,000 ton cargo of Russian wheat.

The White House said in a statement the United States was alarmed by the strike and cited reports that the Houthis attempted another attack against an oil tanker in the Red Sea.

“This proves yet again that missile proliferation in Yemen is a real threat to all countries and underscores the need to fully enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216” calling for an end to violence in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Sunni Muslim allies have been fighting in Yemen for three years against the Houthis, a Shi’ite group that controls much of North Yemen including the capital Sanaa, and drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

The Houthis, who are aligned with the Middle East’s pre-eminent Shi’ite power Iran, have fired missiles into Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition has carried out a campaign of thousands of air strikes and restricted imports into Yemen, worsening what the United Nations says is potentially the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“Areas under the Houthi control are suffering,” the White House said. “The Houthis should engage meaningfully with the United Nations Special Envoy in order to provide a better future for all Yemenis.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/u-s-alarmed-by-strike-on-turkish-ship-delivering-wheat-to-yemen/
 

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Alex's take...

 

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Aid Group’s Warn of ‘Disaster’ as Coalition Closes In on Key Yemen Port
June 1, 2018 by Reuters



File Photo: A ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen, March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad



By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA, June 1 (Reuters) – As forces of the Saudi-led military coalition close in on the main Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, aid agencies fear a major battle that will also shut down a vital lifeline for millions of hungry civilians.

Senior aid officials urged Western powers providing arms and intelligence to the coalition to push the mostly Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab allies to reconvene U.N. talks with the Iran-allied Houthi movement to avoid a bloodbath and end the three-year war.

A coalition spokesman said on Tuesday that forces backed by the coalition were 20 kms (12 miles) from the Houthi-held city of Hodeidah, but did not specify whether there were plans for an assault to seize the Red Sea port, long a key target.

“The coalition ground forces are now at the doorstep of this heavily-fortified, heavily-mined port city,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters. “Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah which is now a battle zone.”

Missile Struck Turkish Ship Off Yemen, EU NAVFOR Official Says

“We cannot have war in Hodeidah, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe.”

Troops from the United Arab Emirates and Yemeni government are believed to lead coalition forces massing south of the city of 400,000, another aid official said, declining to be named.

Last week U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock urged the Saudi-led coalition that controls Yemen’s ports to expedite food and fuel imports. He warned that a further 10 million Yemenis could face starvation by year-end in addition to 8.4 million already severely short of food in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“LOOMING BATTLE”
“Hodeidah, the so-called big battle, has been looming now for 18 months with ups and downs,” Robert Mardini, Middle East regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told Reuters.

“It’s a densely-populated area where any military scenario will risk coming at a huge human cost.”

The coalition is carrying out air strikes in Yemen in support of restoring the internationally-recognized government, while Houthis have launched missiles into Saudi Arabia. Some 10,000 people have been killed and 3 million displaced.

Yemen traditionally imports 90 percent of its food, mainly through Hodeidah where U.N. inspectors check ships to ensure they do not carry weapons.

Yemen Port To Stay Open Despite Deadly Missile Strikes

“It remains a lifeline for the highlands where close to 70 percent of Yemenis live. It’s about the need to have commercial imports,” Mardini said.
“Despite all the measures put in place by the Coalition to improve imports, what is reaching Hodeidah is very short of the needs.”

Egeland called for Western powers – led by Britain, the United States and France – and Iran, which is allied to the Shi’ite Houthis, to help avert disaster. “The situation is screaming for more robust diplomacy on both sides.”

“We are now in a race against the clock, to really get enough supplies in through Hodeidah which is very difficult given the continued severe restrictions on fuel and other imports by the coalition.

“War would mean nothing coming through.”

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Richard Balmforth)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/aid-groups-warn-of-disaster-as-coalition-closes-in-on-key-yemen-port/
 

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Gaza's First Female Photographer Dodging IDF Bullets
Journeyman Pictures



Published on Jun 4, 2018
Woman In The Line Of Fire: Having proved herself in the line of fire, Gaza's first photojournalist portrays the reality of life on the Gaza strip.
 

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World Food Programme Vessel ‘VOS Theia’ Attacked Off Yemen
June 4, 2018 by Reuters


M/V VOS Theia. Photo: Vroon Offshore



GENEVA, June 4 (Reuters) – Unidentified forces attacked a U.N. aid vessel off the main Yemeni port of Hodeidah at the weekend and started a fire in the engine room, port authorities said on Monday.

The United Nations aid chief, Mark Lowcock, confirmed there had been an incident but said it was now over and everyone was safe, without elaborating.

The vessel used by the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) was attacked after delivering a shipment at Hodeidah, Yemen’s Red Sea Ports Corporation said. The port is held by the Iranian-aligned armed Houthi movement which has taken large parts of the country in a three-year-old war.

A WFP spokeswoman said an unidentified armed group “aboard a skiff had opened fire and attempted to take over” the vessel that was some 60 km (38 miles)) off the coast of Hodeidah.

“Both the crew and the vessel are safe, with no injuries or obvious damage to the vessel,” spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said in a statement sent to Reuters.

The ship was waiting in anchorage for permission to leave from a Saudi-led military coalition, the Ports Corporation added. The coalition is fighting the Houthis and controls the nearby Zubair island.

“The vessel traffic office received a distress call from the VOS THEIA at 1730 (1430 GMT) on Sunday, June 3, 2018 about a fire in the vessel resulting from an external attack,” the Port Corporation said in a statement.

“There was an incident,” Lowcock told Reuters in Geneva. “We don’t know who’s responsible. We’re investigating and the incident is over.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Sunni Muslim allies entered the war three years ago to try to drive back the Houthis, a Shi’ite group that forced a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

Last month the U.S.-backed coalition said it had foiled attacks by explosives-laden speedboats deployed by the Houthis against commercial vessels, including an oil tanker, in the Red Sea, and in April a Saudi oil tanker was hit off of Hodeidah, suffering limited damage.

A coalition spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the boarding.

Coalition-backed troops have been advancing on Hodeidah, but it is not clear if they plan to seize the port, which handles the bulk of Yemen’s commercial imports and aid supplies.

Aid Group’s Warn of ‘Disaster’ as Coalition Closes In on Key Yemen Port

Asked about a possible coalition ground assault on the port, a lifeline for eight million Yemenis being fed by the world body, Lowcock said: “There’s no port more important than Hodeidah. So anything which called into question the operation of Hodeidah would be a matter of deepest concern.”

Riyadh says the Houthis are using the port to smuggle Iranian-made weapons, accusations denied by the group and Tehran. U.N. inspectors check ships to ensure they do not carry weapons.

Yemen’s war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million and pushed the impoverished country to the verge of starvation.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Andrew Heavens and David Stamp)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/world-food-programme-vessel-vos-theia-attacked-off-yemen/
 

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Life in Gaza with Norman Finkelstein
RT America


Published on Jun 16, 2018
Norman Finkelstein, Scholar & Author of “Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom,” discusses Gaza, its people, and its future.

Follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/OnContactRT
 

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WHILE NO ONE IS LOOKING, TRUMP IS ESCALATING AMERICA’S DRONE WAR || WARTHOG 2018
Warthog Defense


Published on Jun 27, 2018
In expanding US drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan, Trump has "shredded" Obama-era safeguards to minimizing the risk of civilian casualties.

By: David Axe

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/ar...
 

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Israel Poised For Complete Annexation Of West Bank, UN Warns


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 07/03/2018 - 14:50


Just prior to a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this week, a UN legal expert has declared that Israel is moving closer to formal annexation of the West Bank.

“After years of creeping Israeli de facto annexation of the large swathes of the West Bank through settlement expansion, the creation of closed military zones and other measures, Israel appears to be getting closer to enacting legislation that will formally annex parts of the West Bank,” UN official Michael Lynk said.


Israeli-occupied West Bank. Image via Newscom

Lynk's warning was posted on the web site of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHRC) — the rights monitoring body that both the United States and Israel are boycotting, with the US recently stunning the council by announcing its pullout last month, citing a general anti-Israel bias.

The UN statement highlighted Israeli expansion: “This would amount to a profound violation of international law, and the impact of ongoing settlement expansion on human rights must not be ignored,” Lynk continued. “This is my third mission to the region since I assumed the mandate in May 2016, and the reports I received this week have painted the bleakest picture yet of the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” he said after returning from an information gathering mission to the region.

The statement also highlighted restriction on Palestinian movement, night raids and the lack of building approvals, and what the UNHRC has called a creeping de facto annexation of West Bank territory. Lynk will deliver a full and final presentation of his findings before the UN General Assembly 73rd session in October — this as a formal UN investigation into the recent shootings of hundreds of Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli security forces is simultaneously underway, an inquiry which was also condemned by the United States and Israel in a May vote.

This week will likely only serve to confirm in Ambassador Nikki Haley's mind that the UNHRC is in her words issued in June, a "cesspool of political bias" as at the UNHRC on Monday a number of countries spoke under Agenda Item 7, which mandates consideration of Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians as a permanent agenda item, and which the Haley unsuccessfully tried to defeat at the General Assembly before deciding to quit the council.

The US State Department has noted in an official statement, "No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council."

However, Monday's session reveals that the firm US stance and behind the scenes diplomatic pressure may be having an impact. The Jerusalem Post reports that Western nations held a de facto boycott of the Agenda 7 debate in Geneva on Monday:

Only 22%, 43 nations out of the 193 UN countries who could have taken the floor, stood up to condemn Israel. France, which had initially signed up to speak, changed its mind at the last moment and was not present in the room when its name was called.

The silence marked a slim sign of continued success for the Israeli and US campaign to abolish the UNRHC mandate that requires a debate on Israeli actions against the Palestinians at every council session under Agenda Item 7.

Neither the US nor Israel, nor France were the room for the deliberations.

The Palestinian delegation, however, welcomed those states engaged in the “general debate of Item 7 [against] the will and wish of the occupying power to not participate in the debate on this item which deals with the illegal practices of the occupation and the refusal to comply with international humanitarian law.”

Palestinian Authority Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi said, in words clearly directed at Israel and the US and their allies, that violators of Palestinian rights “should withdraw from the council and not come back until they change this approach that is destructive of law and morality and principles, and adds more radicalism and promotes terrorism."

Some analysts have predicted that US absence from the UNHRC will give the Palestinian and Arab side more influence at the council; however, time will tell if more countries, like France this week, will eventually bow to US pressure.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-07-03/israel-poised-complete-annexation-west-bank-un-warns
 

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U.S. Navy Ready to Protect Freedom of Navigation in Strait of Hormuz Amid Iran Threat
July 5, 2018 by Reuters



G-Valeriy / Shutterstock



By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure free navigation and the flow of commerce, the U.S. military’s Central Command said on Thursday, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned they would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and some senior military commanders have threatened in recent days to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to cut Tehran’s exports.

Praising Rouhani’s “firm stance” against the United States, the head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday their forces were ready to block the strait which links the Gulf to the open sea.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

If Iran cannot sell its oil under U.S. pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to either, said Mohammad Ali Jafari, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful military force.

“We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed … We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil transit channel in the world with about one-fifth of global oil consumption passing through each day.

“The U.S. and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked what would be the U.S. Naval Forces’ reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

The Guards’ naval arm lacks a strong conventional fleet. However, it has many speed boats and portable anti-ship missile launchers, and can lay mines.

A senior U.S. military leader said in 2012 the Guards have the ability to block the strait “for a period of time” but the United States would take action to reopen it in such an event.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and David Stamp)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

Read Next: Strait of Hormuz: The World’s Most Important Oil Artery

http://gcaptain.com/u-s-navy-ready-...igation-in-strait-of-hormuz-amid-iran-threat/
 

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Strait of Hormuz: The World’s Most Important Oil Artery
July 5, 2018 by Reuters



File Photo: U.S. Navy Photo



LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – With a third of the world’s sea-borne oil passing through it every day, the Strait of Hormuz is a strategic artery linking Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

This week, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander threatened that Tehran will block oil shipments through the waterway in response to U.S. calls to ban all Iranian oil exports.

The Strait has been at the heart of regional tensions for decades and this is not first time that Tehran has made such threats.

Related: U.S. Navy Ready to Protect Freedom of Navigation in Strait of Hormuz Amid Iran Threat

WHAT IS IT?

* It is a waterway separating Iran and Oman, connecting the Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.

* It is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the shipping lane is only two miles wide in either direction. WHY IT MATTERS?

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates a record 18.5 million barrels per day of sea-borne oil passed through it in 2016, a 9 percent increase on flows in 2015 which accounted for 30 pct of all sea-borne traded crude oil and other liquids during the year.

* Sea-borne crude and condensate flows transiting the Strait are estimated at around 17.2 million bpd in 2017 and around 17.4 million bpd in the first half of 2018, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa.

* Most of the crude exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq passes through it. It is also the route for nearly all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) from lead exporter Qatar.

* Throughout the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) the two sides sought to disrupt each other’s oil exports in what was known as the Tanker War.

* The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting the commercial ships in the area.

* Energy consultants Petromatrix who track U.S. aircraft carriers in the region say there are currently no carriers in the Arabian Gulf. They add the carrier that could have made the short trip to the Gulf from the eastern Mediterranean, turned around to sail back to the Atlantic.

* “Under the Bush administration there was always one to two carriers in the Arab Gulf, under the Obama administration there were some short times when the Arabian Gulf was left with no carriers but that was gestures made while the U.S. was negotiating with Iran,” the said on July 5 PIPELINE ALTERNATIVES

* The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find alternatives to bypass the strait. The following EIA table shows those pipeline projects.

INCIDENTS IN THE STRAIT
* In July 1988 the U.S. warship Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, killing all 290 on-board, in what Washington said was an accident after crew mistook the plane for a fighter. Tehran called it a deliberate attack. The U.S. said the Vincennes was in the area to protect neutral vessels against Iranian navy attacks.

* In early 2008 the United States said Iranian boats had threatened its warships after they approached three U.S. naval ships in the Strait.

* In June 2008, Revolutionary Guards commander-in-chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the Strait if it was attacked.

* In July 2010 a Japanese oil tanker called M Star was attacked in the Strait. A militant group called Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

* In January 2012, Iran threatened to block the Strait in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions that targeted its oil revenues in an attempt to stop the nuclear program.

* In May 2015, Iranian ships fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which it said damaged an Iranian oil platform, causing the vessel to flee, and seized a container ship in the Strait.

* On July 3, 2018, President Hassan Rouhani hinted Iran could disrupt oil flows through the Strait in response to U.S. calls to bring down Iran’s oil exports to zero.

* The following day, a Revolutionary Guards commander spelled out that Iran would block all exports through the Strait if Iranian exports are stopped

Sources: Reuters/Energy Information Administration

(Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/strait-of-hormuz-the-worlds-most-important-oil-artery/
 

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How Could Iran Disrupt Oil Flows in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz?
July 11, 2018 by Reuters



U.S. Navy File Photo




ANKARA/LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) – The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said last week that Tehran would block all exports through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if countries heed U.S. calls to stop buying Iranian oil from November.

A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait from Middle East crude producers to major markets.

Outlined below are previous confrontations in the Gulf involving Iran, the military capabilities of the various parties and the diplomatic context of the latest threats:

PAST ACTIONS
Iran cannot legally close the waterway unilaterally because part of it is in Oman’s territorial waters.

However, ships pass through Iranian waters, which are under the responsibility of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Navy.

In 2016, the Guards interrogated and held U.S. sailors overnight after they entered Iranian territorial waters elsewhere in the Gulf.

A year earlier, Iran fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which it said damaged an Iranian oil platform and held a container ship and its crew for a week over a debt dispute after diverting it with patrol boats in the Strait. In 2007, Iran detained British sailors further north in the Gulf.

Iran also performs annual war games and tests medium range cruise and ballistic missiles. The deputy head of IRGC, Hossein Salami said in 2014 that Iran could use its cruise and ballistic missiles and drones, mines, speedboats, and missile launchers in the Gulf area to confront the United States.

In 2015, the Guards staged a drill, shown on state television, in which a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier was destroyed with missiles and speed-boats loaded with explosives while the guards practiced laying mines in the Strait.

In recent years, there have been periodic confrontations between the Guards and U.S. military in the Gulf.

The U.S. navy has said that from January 2016 to August 2017 there was an average of 2.5 “unsafe” or “unprofessional” interactions per month between U.S. Navy and Iranian maritime forces, including an Iranian drone flying near a U.S. Navy warplane and Iranian military boat sailing close to a US Navy vessel. Tehran has accused U.S. forces of provocation.

“Their security and the security of their interests in the region are in our hands” the Guards’ Salami said this year, although the number of incidents has dropped in recent months.

During the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-1988 the two sides attacked ships in the Gulf to hamper one another’s oil exports in what was known as the Tanker War.

In 1988, a U.S. frigate struck an Iranian mine, blowing a hole in its hull and breaking its keel, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) said. The United States destroyed two Iranian oil terminals, sank an Iranian warship and damaged another in response, the ONI said.

MILITARY BALANCE
The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting commercial ships in the area. U.S. officials have said closing the Strait would be crossing a “red line” and have pledged to take action to reopen it.

“We have the forces we need to maintain free flow of commerce and the freedom of navigation,”Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman told Reuters.

Western navies also stage military exercises in the Gulf and Arab states across the Gulf from Iran, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have high-tech naval capacities.

An ONI report said last year that Iran’s Guards’ naval doctrine was “based on speed, numbers, stealth, survivability, and lethality” and that it had aquired fast attack craft, small boats, anti-ship cruise missiles and mines.

“Individually, these improvements cannot compete with Western technology. However, taken together, they could create an overall capability that is greater than the sum of its parts, particularly when employed in tight operational spaces like the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz,” the ONI said.

The U.S. has said it would use minesweepers, warship escorts and potentially air strikes to protect the free flow of commerce but reopening the Strait could be a lengthy process especially if the Guards laid mines.

Michael Connell, head of the Iran program with U.S. non-profit research body CNA, said of all Iran’s capabilities, mines were probably the one that caused the most concern. He also said a misjudged incident which would trigger direct fire was a more likely scenario than a blockade of the Strait.

“I would be less worried about a bolt out of the blue attempt to close the Strait and more worried about stumbling into a conflict,” he said.

NEGOTIATING TACTIC?
Iranian officials differ over the significance of the latest threat to close the Strait.

“By calling on countries to cut their oil exports from Iran, America has already declared war on Iran,” a senior Iranian official and a former Revolutionary Guards commander who served during the 1980s war with Iraq told Reuters.

“If we come to that point of not being able to export any oil, we will surely close the waterway.”

Another official, who like the first declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, placed the threat in the context of talks with world powers on the future of the nuclear deal.

Iran has said it would remain in the deal, which frees it from international sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program, only if its interests were guaranteed.

“The Strait issue gives Iran an upper hand in the talks. Everyone should know that Iran cannot be pressured,” the second senior Iranian government official said. “Iran has never closed the waterway … even under the worst conditions and mounted pressure on the country.”

(Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

http://gcaptain.com/how-could-iran-disrupt-oil-flows-in-the-persian-gulf-and-strait-of-hormuz/
 

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Gaza Escalation: 40 Israeli Airstrikes Overnight, Hamas Mortars, Fires In Southern Israel


by Tyler Durden
Sat, 07/14/2018 - 11:10


Tensions along the Israel-Gaza Strip border escalated dramatically on Saturday with an intense exchange of fire between Palestinian militants and Israeli security forces, including Israeli air force strikes inside Gaza, which reportedly targeted underground tunnels which Israel says are designed to launch attacks.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) cited 31 rockets fired from the Strip overnight to which Israel responded with airstrikes on 40 targets including Hamas' battalion headquarters, in a flare-up of hostilities officials are calling the biggest attack since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Amazingly, however, no serious casualties were reported on either side, according to Bloomberg.


Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on July 14th. Image source: AFP via Times of Israel

Hamas, for its part, claimed 15 sites struck withing Israel, saying in an official statement the rocket launches were meant to "force the enemy to stop the escalation." Both Hamas officials and Palestinian activists say Israeli security has deliberately targeted civilian protesters along the border fence which has left hundreds dead and wounded, which the United Nations is currently investigating.

In response, Israel claims the civilian protesters are being deliberately used as human shields - including women and children - ordered by Hamas military officials to go to the front lines where they know they could be shot. Since March, Gaza officials have counted over 140 Gazans killed almost 2000 wounded by Israeli live fire.

Israeli military statements further said the significant overnight airstrikes on Hamas positions were in response to a series of arson attacks as well as assaults on Israeli solders.

Israeli military footage of the overnight airstrikes:


There's been a significant uptick in so-called 'kite bombs' and 'arson balloons' since early summer. Israeli authorities have attributed a recent spate of fires ravaging farmlands to the low-tech kites and "arson balloons" which have resulted in over 400 fires burning more than 6,000 acres, according to a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

On Thursday, Israeli media reports counted 21 fires originating in a single day due to burning kites launched from Gaza, impacting farmlands in southern Israel.

Since the 'Great March of Return' protests, which started along the Israeli-Gaza border fence in late March, explosive and incendiary devices have been used to target farmlands in southern Israel. Large kites or collections of balloons will typically be released while carrying burning items attached by a long cord. They've also been dubbed 'Molotov cocktail kites' and have become the latest improvised means of getting around Israel's high-tech air defense systems.


In mid-June, Israeli media reported widely on alleged Palestinian plans to launch 5,000 such devices into southern Israel to mark a major Islamic holiday, at which time Israel announced a near total ban on helium entering the Gaza Strip.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

Israel announced that it was limiting the entrance of helium into the Gaza Strip. Helium is used for various medical reasons such as MRI machines.


Israel has said that Palestinians have been using the gas to fill incendiary balloons in order to increase the distance they can travel. The decision to ban the transfer of helium was implemented by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon following Liberman’s approval.

Israel has also been reportedly experimenting with the use of drones to latch onto the burning kites and guide them away from Israeli settlements, which the IDF says it has done successfully in some cases. On Friday two Palestinians — including a 15-year old — were shot dead for reportedly trying to breach the border in an incident Israeli soldiers said was a broader assault that included grenades, explosives, and rocks.

The latest escalation involving mortars and airstrikes are likely a sign of more to come into the weekend and possibly next week.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...overnight-hamas-mortars-fires-southern-israel
 

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Why are we still supplying this nation with arms and funding? All they've done is leech off the US while stabbing us in the back every chance they get! The one single thing Obama got right was to tell the Israelis to fuck off

 

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Israel approves law that defines it as the nation-state of Jews and declares Arabic no longer an 'official' language - prompting Arab groups to declare: 'We are no longer wanted here'

  • Bill, passed in the early hours, defines country as nation-state of Jewish people
  • PM Benjamin Netanyahu called passage a 'historic moment in history of Zionism'
  • Critics have said it marginalizes the country's Arab minority of around 20%
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ate-law-critics-say-sidelines-minorities.html
 

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'YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE SUFFERED': Trump sends astonishing all caps Twitter warning to Iranian President Rouhani over threats to the US - but regime dismisses his 'passive reaction'

  • Trump tweeted dire all-caps warning to Iranian President Rouhani late Sunday
  • 'NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN' Trump tweeted
  • Rouhani had earlier told the US that 'war with Iran is the mother of all wars'
  • Iran called Trump's threat as a 'passive reaction' and said he 'won't dare' attack
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...-stark-warning-Iranian-President-Rouhani.html

 

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Trump is 'not afraid' to act against Iran says Sarah Sanders after president warns Tehran it will 'SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE SUFFERED' for threatening U.S.

  • Sarah Sanders told 'Fox & Friends' that Iran is the 'only' one issuing threats
  • That came after Trump's allcaps warning to Hassan Rouhani late Sunday
  • 'NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN' Trump tweeted
  • Rouhani had earlier cautioned Trump that 'war with Iran is the mother of all wars'
  • Iran then called Trump's threat a 'passive reaction' and said he 'won't dare' attack
  • Sanders said the president is 'certainly not going to tolerate the leader of Iran making threats against Americans'
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ays-Sarah-Sanders-Trumps-Twitter-threats.html
 

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Is Trump playing 3d chess warmongering against Iran to take the heat off all his (((hollywood))) pedo buddies hoping the people forget what is going on there?
 

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Trump’s War of Words With Iran Shines Spotlight on Vital Oil Route
July 23, 2018 by Bloomberg



G-Valeriy / Shutterstock

By Anthony DiPaola (Bloomberg) — The war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and his counterpart in Iran over oil exports and sanctions is shining a spotlight on the narrow, twisting conduit for about 30 percent of the world’s seaborne-traded crude.

The Middle East’s biggest oil exporters rely on the Strait of Hormuz, the passage linking the Persian Gulf with global waterways, for the vast majority of their crude shipments — some 17.5 million barrels a day.

Should a regional conflict block that bottleneck, three of the largest Gulf Arab crude producers have pipeline networks that would potentially enable them to export as much as 4.1 million barrels via alternative outlets, according to Bloomberg calculations. Even so, this amount of oil, if sent by pipeline, would be less than a quarter of the total that typically sails on tankers through Hormuz.

Iran has renewed threats to block the Strait since the U.S. announced its plan to reimpose sanctions and cut shipments from OPEC’s third-largest producer to zero from about 2.5 million barrels a day now. The U.S. president warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to “never, ever threaten the United States.” Trump’s tweet came hours after Rouhani warned the U.S. against endangering Iranian oil exports and called for improved relations with neighbors, including rival Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of America’s closest friends in the Middle East and geopolitical adversaries of Iran, both have pipeline networks that bypass Hormuz. Iraq has one operational pipeline to a Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea. All four countries are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and depend on the Strait to export their oil.

The total capacity of pipelines that could be used instead of Hormuz is about 7.1 million barrels a day, though some of that capacity is currently taken up by oil sent to export markets or domestic refineries. Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., are each using less than half of the respective pipeline capacities, while a link from northern Iraq is about two-thirds utilized, Bloomberg data show.

“Actual export capacity that avoids the Strait is limited,” said Jaap Meijer, managing director and head of equity research at investment bank Arqaam Capital Ltd. in Dubai. Any attempt to close shipping lanes out of the Gulf and into Hormuz would likely cause oil prices to spike, he said.
Global benchmark Brent crude gained 0.9 percent to $73.71 a barrel at 5:55 p.m. in Dubai.

State oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, can pump as much as 5 million barrels a day to the kingdom’s Red Sea coast via the 1,200 kilometer (746-mile) East-West pipeline, built in the 1980s to transport crude from eastern fields located close to the Persian Gulf.

Aramco Exports
Aramco has exported an average of 650,000 barrels a day from the Red Sea port of Yanbu this year, according to ship-tracking data. The company also operates four refineries that can process as much as 1.4 million barrels a day. Supplies to the refineries and shipments to Yanbu indicate that Aramco is using at least 2.05 million barrels a day of capacity along the East-West pipeline.

Abu Dhabi, with about 6 percent of the world’s crude, exports some of its oil through a 1.5 million barrel-a-day pipeline to the Indian Ocean port of Fujairah. The link spans some 400 kilometers from Abu Dhabi’s desert oil fields and across the Hajar mountains to Fujairah, which lies outside the Strait of Hormuz. State-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. has exported 626,000 barrels of crude a day on average through the pipeline so far this year, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer after Saudi Arabia, pumps about 90 percent of its oil from fields in the country’s south and ships it by tankers through the Gulf. The country can also supply mainly European buyers via a pipeline from northern fields to port of Ceyhan, Turkey.

It can pump about 600,000 barrels a day through this pipeline, which passes through and is controlled by Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The link currently exports at only about two-thirds of its capacity due to a dispute over oil revenue between Kurds and the federal government in Baghdad. Iraq is working to repair a separate pipeline from its northern fields that was put out of operation during fighting against Islamic State militants.

Iran, meanwhile, is seeking to ship its own oil from a port outside the Hormuz chokepoint. It aims to start crude exports from a planned terminal on the island of Jask, in the Gulf of Oman, in 2020.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

http://gcaptain.com/trumps-war-of-words-with-iran-shines-spotlight-on-vital-oil-route/
 

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'BE CAUTIOUS': Iran's foreign minister mimics Trump's all-caps tweet and gives his own warning to the US after saying he is 'unimpressed' by the president's threat

  • Trump tweeted dire all-caps warning to Iranian President Rouhani late Sunday
  • 'NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN' Trump wrote in the tweet
  • Rouhani had earlier told the US that 'war with Iran is the mother of all wars'
  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked Trump's tweet Monday
  • Zarif said he's 'unimpressed' with the threat & warned Trump to 'BE CAUTIOUS!'
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...imics-Trumps-caps-tweet-gives-warning-US.html
 

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Germany Encourages India To Keep Buying Oil From Iran


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 07/24/2018 - 05:00

Authored by Irina Slav via Oilprice.com,

Germany’s minister of state for foreign affairs has encouraged India to continue buying Iranian oil, despite pressure from the United States, which Niels Annen called “irritating, to put it mildly.”



“I am not a salesman for Iran but I have an impression that India is willing to continue buying oil from Iran and this will be a very important statement,” Annen told Indian media, as quoted by Sputnik, also noting that whatever New Delhi decided, it would be a sovereign decision.

India is Iran’s top oil client, and it is also one of the countries that are most heavily dependent on oil imports.



This means that the consequences of U.S. sanctions on Tehran will spread to India, which already has a problem with too high international oil prices.



India is a strong U.S. ally in Asia, but it has also been building better relations with Tehran, which puts it in a sensitive position.

In May, when President Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, India’s Foreign Minister said that India will continue importing Iranian crude despite U.S. sanctions, adding that that India only honors sanctions imposed by the United Nations, but not ones introduced by individual countries.

Nevertheless, Iranian crude oil imports into India fell by 15.9 percent in June from May, or to 592,800 bpd from more than 705,000 bpd in the previous month. The drop suggests that despite its initially tough stance on U.S. sanctions, Indian refiners have started changing their mind as the November 4 deadline to wind down business relations with Iran draws nearer.

An Iranian official from the embassy in New Delhi then threatened India that it might lose its “special privileges” if it stops buying Iranian crude in November. Other Tehran officials were quick to call the threat a misquote, and went on to assure India that Iran will continue to ensure a stable supply of crude for its regional partner.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-07-23/germany-encourages-india-keep-buying-oil-iran
 

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Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet as military claims it had infiltrated its airspace

  • Two Patriot missiles were launched at a Syrian fighter jet, Israeli military said
  • The Israeli Defence Forces said it had 'monitored the advance of the fighter jet'
  • It's the first time that Israel has shot down a manned Syrian fighter jet since 2014
  • Syrian military sources accused Israel of firing at a warplane carrying out operations against jihadists, over Syrian territory
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/bre...jet-military-claims-infiltrated-airspace.html
 

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Latest i read israel is helping (((ISIS))) clear out of Syria where they were getting their (((CIA))) asses kicked inside out.
 

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Trump, Iran and the New Guns of August -James Stavridis
July 24, 2018 by Bloomberg



An Aviation Warfare Systems Operator takes a photograph of an unidentified oil tanker from aboard an SH-60 Seahawk in the Persian Gulf,

By James Stavridis (Bloomberg Opinion) — In the hot summer of 1987, I was a young Navy officer sailing into the Arabian Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz onboard the Valley Forge, a brand new and heavily armed Aegis Cruiser. Our mission, code-named Ernest Will, was to escort merchant ships in and out of the Gulf, protecting them from the threat of Iranian cruise missiles and air attack.

It was the midst of the Iran-Iraq War — which lasted eight years and cost more than half a million lives — and our job was to keep the global shipping lanes open while Iran sought to control the vital strait through which flows some 35 percent of the world’s seaborne oil.

It was exciting and dangerous work. Over the next year, the U.S. Navy would eventually attack the Iranian Navy, retaliating after one of our frigates was nearly sunk by an Iranian mine in Operation Praying Mantis. Eventually, Iraq and Iran settled their differences and an uneasy peace reigned between Arabs and Persians in the flat, hot, shallow waters of the Gulf, despite occasional flare-ups, for the next three decades.

Until now. The tension in the Gulf — and especially in the Strait of Hormuz — is rising again, and the echoes of those conflicts 30 years ago are getting louder. The presidents of Iran and the U.S. this week exchanged harshly worded tweets (in 1987, a tweet was something a bird did on a spring morning) and oil markets are keeping a wary eye on developments. Israel released another cache of stolen Iranian documents showing the perfidy and determination of its nuclear program.

What would a conflict centered on the Strait of Hormuz look like? How long would it last? And above all, what is the best strategy the U.S. could take toward Iran?

The uber-conflict in the region remains the religious and geopolitical tension between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, each of whom has long-standing historical enmity toward the other. Iran is pushing hard, diplomatically and militarily, into a several Sunni nations around the region — Iraq, Syria and Qatar — and others more split between Islam’s two major sects, Lebanon and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, under the dynamic leadership of young, capable Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, is determined to stop further Persian encroachment into the Arab world. The two nations share long coastlines of the Gulf, where they have fought for centuries. And the key to the entire area is the narrow sea entrance: the 30-mile wide Strait of Hormuz.

We know that Iran has detailed plans to close the strait. It would use a variety of means including widespread mining; swarms of small, ultrafast patrol boats; shore-based cruise missiles; manned aircraft; and diesel submarines. Iran would employ a “layered offense,” stationing diesels in the Arabian Sea on the other side of the strait to harass incoming merchant ships; swarming U.S. and allied warships in the narrow confines of the strait itself; and mining sections of the shipping lanes.

All of this, of course, is illegal under international law, but would have the intended consequence of challenging the U.S. and the Gulf Arabs while driving up oil prices exponentially. (Iran is able to export some oil from its southern coast, bypassing the strait, so its economy might suffer less than the Arabs’.)

When Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani talk about shutting down the strait, they mean it. They could accomplish it in just 48 to 72 hours, as commercial shipping, out of prudence and under pressure from insurers, would opt not to take the risk of passing through the waters.

In terms of a response, the U.S. and its allies and coalition partners would certainly react strongly. Our Navy would attack Iranian ships attempting to lay mines; strike land-based air and cruise missile sites within range of the strait; sink Iranian diesel subs at their piers; and potentially launch punishing strikes against broader targets inside Iran (although initial responses would probably target only weapons and systems used in the strait closure in order to observe rules of war pertaining to proportionality).

In other words, just as Iran has detailed plans to close the strait, the U.S. has contingency plans to respond and reopen it. This would be a longer process than many people suspect, especially if Iran had the opportunity to put a significant number of mines into the water. Clearing mines is a laborious and time-consuming process, and could take weeks if not a month or two to accomplish.

President Donald Trump, who has long-held antipathy for Iran and hated the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, reacted harshly when Khamenei made a thinly veiled reference to playing the Strait of Hormuz card if the U.S. imposes additional sanctions. In doing so, Trump is taking a page from the U.S. playbook for North Korea, betting that Khamenei and the hard-liners in Tehran will back down and choose a diplomatic path instead of war.

Unfortunately, the Iranians are far more ideological than Kim Jong Un. Kim is a gangster leader who will respond to monetary incentives; the ayatollahs are religious zealots, many of whom are willing to die to defy the Great Satan.

A better strategy for the U.S. than angry tweets would be to craft an aggressive but sensible overall strategy toward Iran. The key components would include enhanced surveillance and intelligence-gathering (especially in concert with Israel); stronger missile defenses for key U.S. bases in the region (Bahrain for naval forces and Al Udeid in Qatar for air forces); encouraging the Arab nations’ Gulf Cooperation Council and Israel to cooperate more intensely on intelligence-sharing and missile defense; more use of offensive cyber to preempt Iranian options; larger naval forces in the region, especially in the North Arabian Sea; and — above all — getting our European allies “on side” in the tougher sanctions regime.

The latter task will immeasurably harder following the debacles of the G-7 and NATO summits, where Trump went out of his way to offend allied leaders. The residual hard feelings in Europe are real, and will continue to cause significant division between the U.S. administration and our best pool of partners in Europe.

One hopes that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, two highly capable leaders, are working to bring our allies on board while crafting a thoughtful strategy to deal with the threat of Iran.

We have been here before, and managed to keep the Strait of Hormuz open and the global economy chugging along. But doing so this time will require a deft mix of hard and soft power and a coherent strategy for dealing with the very real Iranian threat.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

http://gcaptain.com/trump-iran-and-the-new-guns-of-august-james-stavridis/
 

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Latest i read israel is helping (((ISIS))) clear out of Syria where they were getting their (((CIA))) asses kicked inside out.
Netanyahu: Trump asked me to evacuate White Helmets from Syria
RT


Published on Jul 23, 2018
The Israeli Prime Minister says that his country initiated the evacuation of the controversial White Helmets group from Syria, at the request of Donald Trump & other Western allies. The White Helmets operate in rebel-held areas and have been linked to jihadist groups. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9aue
 

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Government forces close on last rebel group in southwestern Syria | Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera English


Published on Jul 23, 2018
The Syrian government regime and its ally Russia have stepped up their offensive to defeat the last remaining pocket of rebel-held territory in southwestern Syria.

Israel has also been on high alert as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regains ground from southern rebels, bringing his forces close to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.

As Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reported live from the occupied Golan Heights, huge plumes of smoke could be seen from a short distance away, just across the fence in Syrian territory as Syrian government and Russian forces launched air strikes and tank shelling.

"What we've been watching throughout the day is an intensive campaign by the Syrian government backed by the Russians to take what is this last pocket of opposition control; the group in charge here is affiliated with ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]," Dekker said.
 

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Trump is helping (((ISIS))) why am i not surprised. Quick dish out some (((Q))) bullcrap to keep the jack asses distracted!
 

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They Knew Too Much


by Tyler Durden
Thu, 07/26/2018 - 02:00


Via Oriental Review,

The countries of the West used Israel to evacuate members of the White Helmets from southern Syria. They couldn’t be allowed to fall into the hands of the Syrian government - at least, not while they are still alive.

Essential human-rights defenders
Damascus is almost finished liberating southwestern Syria. The military’s Operation Basalt was extremely successful, allowing them to regain control of the occupied provinces of Quneitra and Daraa(at present the Syrian army has only a small chunk of land left to liberate from the jihadists). Many of the local gangs simply surrendered. Those militants who wanted to remain underwent a procedure of reconciliation with the authorities, while the others were put onto green buses and sent to Idlib.

However, those militants included some very valuable specimens — members of the “Syrian civil defense”, or, as they are more simply known, “the White Helmets.”

If they were taken prisoner, that would be a serious problem for the US and its allies, since the members of that organization might have a lot to say once they were in front of the cameras. And the damage caused by their statements would be far worse than the fallout over the admissions made by Hassan Diab — the boy the “helmets” named as a victim of a chemical attack in Douma, who admitted that the attack had been staged for the photographers. And it would be so much worse, simply because the White Helmets — or at least their leaders — knew so much more.



This is not Aleppo, Syria, but rather the streets of Europe where a “save Aleppo” protest was staged. Actors posing in fake dust and blood proved just how easy it is for anyone to create “war victims” anytime, anywhere.

The White Helmets have been the West’s most important weapon on the propaganda front of the Syrian war. They have acted as the local human-rights activists who have been snapping photos and shooting videos about the “chemical attacks” that that “bloody tyrant” has carried out against his own people. And based on precisely these facts, the US and its partners imposed sanctions against Damascus and have carried out acts of revenge in the form of attacks that would have been nothing less than carpet bombing, had Moscow not been careful to issue stern warnings about the consequences of these attacks.

They’ve gotten out of hand
The Syrian authorities, as well as Moscow, Tehran, and anyone else who gives it a minute’s thought, have naturally cautioned that this data is unreliable and that the White Helmets are, in fact, a PR service for terrorists, whose members chop off their captives’ heads once they take off those helmets, just as their un-helmeted counterparts do. And in order to rein in any growing doubts, the West began to create an image for the White Helmets as heroes without fear and above reproach — as fighters for human rights, who rescue ordinary Syrians from the rubble that was created when Assad’s troops bombed peaceful villages.

According to the official legend, the White Helmets have saved a total of 80,000 lives since 2012 -and some of them right in front of the cameras, after which the “seriously wounded” then stood up and ran somewhere else so they could be heroically saved again. A movie about them even won an Oscar. This means that no decent, upright person (including experts from the OPCW) should harbor any doubts that those pictures — taken from mobile phones somewhere or other, filming something or other — delivered to them by the White Helmets are anything other than real evidence of chemical attacks by Assad.



Over time, relations between Americans and the Helmets have deteriorated — in part because the new White House administration understood the futility of the Syrian front in the battle against Iran and did not want to get entangled in it. Fulfilling the orders of those who were, in contrast, interested in sucking the US further in, the Helmets staged more and more fake stories, trying to drag Trump into the war, which was the only chance the anti-Assad resistance had for victory. It was no surprise that the United States first stopped funding the organization, and then, when the progressive-minded public was outraged by this infringement of the rights of the heroes of the fight against that bloody tyrant, Washington agreed to allocate several million dollars anyway, so that the “heroes” could keep working until the end of the year. However, Washington was not ready to leave them in the lurch — those people know too much, and must not end up in Bashar al-Assad’s hands.

Let’s kill guys
In fact, a few other options did exist. For example, they could order a few killings and then claim those snipers had been employed by that “bloody tyrant,” who had apparently decided to take revenge on the Syrian heroes for exposing his crimes. That would be both cheaper and safer. But there were two problems with that. First of all, there were hundreds of people involved. Someone might dodge a bullet and scamper off to Assad. Second, pulling that tool out of their kit would damage their reputation – other potential tools in other conflicts would simply be too afraid to work with them in the future. To paraphrase Roosevelt, “They might be bastards, but they’re our bastards.”


Members of the Syrian White Helmets and their families are evacuated out of southern Syria by Israel, in an exceptional humanitarian operation overnight on July 22, 2018

And this is exactly why the West decided to pull the White Helmets out of southwestern Syria anyway. And they had to be pulled out as quickly as possible — the Syrians had taken control of the Jordanian border, and the “PR reps” were trapped on a small strip of land along the Golan Heights. And according to Benjamin Netanyahu, it was faced with this situation that US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked him to arrange the evacuation of the White Helmets and their family members, since “the people who saved lives were now under life-threatening danger.” The Israelis first brought them into their own country, before turning them over to the Jordanians.

A total of 422 people (the White Helmets and the members of their families) were pulled out, according to official figures. Now they are being held in a secret shelter inside Jordan, and in three months they will be resettled in Britain, Canada, and Germany. Far from the cameras. And since the data on their subsequent whereabouts will be strictly classified, no one will be able to stop the West from quietly killing off the most important and most dangerous of them. Just to be on the safe side.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-07-25/they-knew-too-much
 

andial

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Funny stuff glad the Iranians, russians and Bashir Al Assad had some fun kicking the shit out of these (((CIA))) backed scumbags.
 

searcher

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Saudis Halt Oil Shipments Through Red Sea: A Potential Watershed In The Yemen War


by Tyler Durden
Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:10


Submitted by James M Dorsey

A spike in oil prices as a result of a temporary halt in shipments through the strategic Bab el Mandeb strait may be short-lived, but the impact on Yemen’s three-year-old forgotten war is likely to put the devastating conflict on the front burner.

The halt following a Saudi assertion that Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had attacked two Saudi oil tankers traversing the waterway drives home the threat the conflict poses to a chokepoint in international trade and the flow of Gulf oil to world markets. The Houthis said they had attacked a Saudi warship rather than oil tankers.

An estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil are shipped daily through Bab al Mandeb that connects the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea off the coast of Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea.



The halt of oil shipments could provoke an escalation of the conflict with external powers intervening in a bid to assist Saudi Arabia and the UAE in defeating the Houthis and dealing a blow to Iran’s regional presence.

By the same token, the halt potentially offers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates an opportunity to focus international attention on resolving a civil war aggravated and turned into a regional conflict by the two Gulf states’ military intervention in March 2015.

Rather than proving to be a swift campaign that would have subdued the Houthis, the intervention has turned into a quagmire and a public relations fiasco for Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

International criticism of their conduct of the war is mounting as a result of its devastating human cost. Voices in the US Congress, the British parliament and other Western legislatures as well as human rights groups calling for a halt of arms sales to Saudi Arabia are growing ever louder.

The armed services panels in the US House and Senate released earlier this week joint defense legislation that demands that the Pentagon tell Congress whether US or Arab coalition forces violated federal law or Pentagon policy. Another provision restricts mid-air US refuelling of coalition aircraft if the UAE and Saudi Arabia fail to demonstrate efforts to support United Nations-backed peace talks, resolve the growing humanitarian crisis, and cut down on civilian deaths.

The war has killed at least 10,000 Yemenis and left more than 22 million people –three-quarters of Yemen’s population – in need of humanitarian aid. At least 8 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine, and 1 million are infected with cholera.

In a most immediate response to the halt, the United States and Britain, eager to benefit from increased arms sales, are likely to step up their support of the Saudi-UAE effort in the Yemen war.

Viewed from Washington as well as Riyadh, the war is one more front in US efforts to force Iran to halt its support of Middle Eastern proxies.

Since the war began, the US and the UK have sold more than $12bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia alone - including some of the warplanes and the payloads they drop.

The US military, moreover, provides mid-air refuelling for Saudi and UAE aircraft, and both British and US personnel assist the Saudis as they target their strikes.

The US, Britain and other powers could look at expanding operations of an anti-piracy alliance in the region created in 2008 in response to Somali piracy. The alliance includes warships patrolling regional waters from all five United Nations Security Council permanent members – the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – as well as other European and Latin American nations, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Singapore, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

The potential for a breakthrough in peace efforts increases when the halt to oil shipments is coupled with a Saudi-UAE threat to besiege the strategic port of Hodeida that could jeopardize the crucial for the flow of humanitarian supplies potentially creates an opportunity for more forceful efforts to bring the Yemen war to an end.

In a letter to US congressional leaders, UAE ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said in June that the Saudi-led Arab force fighting in Yemen is giving the Iran-backed Houthi rebels “the greatest possible opportunity” for a peaceful withdrawal from Hodeida.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths last week put forward a proposal that would avert a fight for Hodeida that has yet to be accepted by all parties.

The plan reportedly calls for a phased Houthi withdrawal from Hodeida and two other nearby ports, a gradual pullback of UAE forces, UN assistance in staffing the port with Yemenis who would also govern the city of 60,000, and the revival of stalled peace talks.

The possibility of the halt to oil shipments propelling efforts to end the war is enhanced by the fact that the Saudi move has ramifications that go beyond energy security.

The Middle East’s multiple conflicts, including the Saudi-Iranian rivalry and the dispute between Qatar and a Saudi-UAE-led alliance that has imposed a 14-month old diplomatic and economic boycott of the Gulf state has spilled across the Horn of Africa with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and China competing for influence by gaining control of ports and establishing military bases.

The UAE’s strong military and commercial presence in the region is one reason why Chinese President Xi Jinping recent stopped in the Emirates for three days on his way to a tour of Africa.

China likely would favour capitalizing on the Saudi halt to propel peace efforts while the Trump administration more probably will lean towards military intervention that confronts Iran.

Said scholar and author Ellen R. Wald: “The Red Sea is a very important shipping lane. If there is a major disruption European powers, Egypt and the United States would all have reason to intervene. They have significant interests in protecting the freedom of the seas through the passageway. An international intervention against the Houthis may be just what Saudi Arabia wants.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...through-red-sea-potential-watershed-yemen-war