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The Saker Interviews Professor Marandi

The Saker • Unz Review • August 22, 2019

Introduction: first, several friends recently suggested that that I should interview Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi; then I read this most interesting text on Moon of Alabama and I decided to ask Professor Marandi to share his views of the current situation in Iran, the Persian Gulf and the rest of the Middle-East who very kindly agreed to reply to my question in spite of his most hectic and busy schedule. I am most grateful to Prof. Marandi for his time and replies. Crucially, Prof. Marandi debunks the silly notion that Russia and Israel are allies or working together. He also debunks that other canard about Russia and Iran having some major differences over Syria. Prof. Marandi, who is currently in Iran, is superbly connected and informed, and I hope that with this interview some of the more outlandish rumors which were recently circulated will finally be seen for what they are: utter, total, nonsense. Enjoy the interview!

The Saker: It is often said that there is an “axis of resistance” which comprises Syrian, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and China. Sometimes, Venezuela, Cuba or the DPRK are added to this list. Do you believe that there is such an “axis of resistance” and, if yes, how would you characterize the nature of this informal alliance? Do you think that this informal alliance can ever grow into a formal political or military alliance or a collective security treaty?

Professor Marandi: I definitely believe there is an Axis of Resistance that currently includes Iran, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, parts of Afghanistan, and Yemen. I do not think that we can include the DPRK in any way or form. I believe that Russia could be considered to a certain degree as aligned or affiliated to this resistance, but that this is not something many would feel the need to acknowledge. At certain levels, there is a lot of overlap between Russian and Chinese policy and the policies of the countries and movements in this region that are affiliated to this Axis of Resistance. The same is true with countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba, which I do not consider to be similar to North Korea at all. Just as almost everywhere else, American policy in the Korean Peninsula is ugly, hegemonic and malevolence, but the nature of the DPRK government is fundamentally different from that of Venezuela or Cuba, whether the Americans or Europeans like to acknowledge that or not. Others can interpret the Axis of Resistance to include or exclude certain countries, but it is pretty clear that Iran and Russia have similar policy objectives when it comes to certain key issues. Nevertheless, Russia has a close relationship with the Israeli regime whereas Iran considers it to be an apartheid state, almost identical to that of apartheid South Africa. Or for example the Syrian government position regarding Israel is different from that of Iran’s. The official Syrian position is that the West Bank and Gaza Strip must be returned to the Palestinians, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, and that the occupied Golan Heights have to be handed back to the Syrian people, which are legitimate demands. But the Iranian position is different, Iran firmly believes that Israel is a colonial and apartheid regime and that it is morally unacceptable for it to exist in its present form. Therefore, at least officially, there are substantial differences. So people can interpret the Axis of Resistance in different ways. It is important to keep in mind that despite Syria, Iran, Turkey and Qatar are also moving closer together partially thanks to US, Saudi, and UAE hostility towards the Muslim Brotherhood. What is important is that there is a growing consensus about key issues in this region and what the major problems are, and I think that as time goes on this loose alliance of countries and movements is growing more influential and more powerful. I cannot say whether there will be a formal or open collective security treaty or military alliance created by any of these countries in the near or foreseeable future and I do not see such a necessity. However, I think this convergence of ideas is very important and I think that the formal and informal links that exist between these countries is in many ways more important and more significant than formal political or military alliances or security treaties.

The Saker: In recent months a number of observers have stated that Russia and Israel are working hand in hand and some have gone as far as to say that Putin is basically a pawn of Netanyahu and that Russia is loyal to Israel and Zionists interests. Do you agree with this point of view? How do Iranian officials view the Russian contacts with the Israelis, does that worry them or do they believe that these contacts can be beneficial for the future of the region?

Professor Marandi: That is nonsense. The US and Israeli regimes are culturally and ideologically bound to one another, whereas the Americans have a deep antipathy towards Russia. That is why the Russians have a very different position on Syria than do the Americans and Israelis. The Israelis alongside the US, the EU, the Saudis, and some of Syria’s neighboring countries, supported ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other extremist entities and attempted to tear Syria apart. As explained earlier, the Russian view of Israel is different from Iran. There are many Russian Jewish immigrants in Israel and they constitute a large segment of the colonists in Palestine and they are largely utilized for the further subjugation of the Palestinian people and ethnic cleansing. Generally speaking, Russian interests are in sharp conflict with those of the United States, Israel’s strongest ally. In addition, Russia’s close relationship with Syria dates back to the cold war and the relentless US pressure on China and Russia has also acted as a strong catalyst to quicken their convergence with one another as well as with Iran on key issues. The Chinese and Russians know quite well that the United States, the Europeans, and regional countries have extensively used extremists in Syria to undermine the state and that those forces could later be used to undermine security in Central Asia, Russia, and China. A large number of Russian, Chinese, and Central Asians have been trained to fight in Syria, and this is a major threat to their collective security. The United States could use these and other extremists in an attempt to impede the potential success of the Belt and Road Initiative or other plans for Asian integration. Thus, there is a sharp and growing conflict between the Russians and the Americans.

The Israeli regime constantly tells the Russians and the Chinese that they are the gateway to Washington and that if they maintain strong ties with Israel, the Israelis can help them solve their problems with the United States. I do not think there is much truth to that, because this growing conflict is about the fate of US global dominance and there is nothing the Israelis can do to change that. Nevertheless, this has been used as an incentive for the Russians and the Chinese to maintain better relations with the Israeli regime.

In any case, Russia does not have to maintain identical views with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Iraq, or Yemen. Differences exist, but strong relationships exist nevertheless. All of these countries recognize that if the Americans are able to undermine any of them, whether it is Syria, Iran, Russia, or China, then that would only encourage the United States to be more aggressive towards the remaining countries that impede US foreign policy objectives or exist as potential rivals whether regionally or globally. So even though their political structures are different, even though their foreign policies are different, the similarities that exist are quite striking as well as the common threats. Again, to a large degree this coalition is a result of US and Western foreign policy, which has strong undercurrents of Eurocentricism, tribalism, and racism.

Not only has this pressure brought these countries and movements closer to one another, but it has also created a deeper understanding among them. The Russians understand Iran better today than they did 5 years ago, partially as a result of their cooperation in Syria. This greater understanding enhances the relationship, and helps to dispel many of the misunderstandings or myths that may exist about one another due to Eurocentric narratives and orientalism.

Hence, Iran is not concerned about Russian-Israeli relations. Obviously, in an ideal world Iran would like Russia to break relations with the Israeli regime for its apartheid nature. But reality is reality, and Iranian relations with Russia are very good and at times I am sure the Iranians send certain warnings to the Israelis through the Russians.

The Saker: How is Russia viewed in Iran? Are most Iranians still suspicious of Russia or do they believe that they have a viable and honest partner in Russia? What are the main reservations/concerns of patriotic Iranians when they think of Russia?

Professor Marandi: Historically, the Iranians have had serious problems with the Russians. The Russians and the Soviet Union interfered extensively in Iranian internal affairs and they undermined Iran’s sovereignty. But ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union the image of Russia has changed. Especially since Russia began fighting alongside Iran in Syria in 2015, Russia’s image has improved significantly. When we look at polls, Russia’s image is pretty good compared to Western countries.

Western governments own or fund dozens of Persian language media outlets These outlets, such as VOA and BBC Persian among others, are constantly spouting anti-Russian propaganda. Obviously they have an impact and that couples with historical Iranian concerns about Russia, but despite all that, the Russian image is relatively favorable and that says a lot.

The Saker: How about Turkey? Iran and Turkey have had a complex relationship in the past, yet in the case of the AngloZionist war against Syria, the two states have worked together (and with Russia) – does that mean that Turkey is seen as a viable and honest partner in Iran?

Professor Marandi: Iran’s relationship with the Turkish government is complicated, especially, because of the constant policy changes that have occurred IN TURKEY over the past few years. This has made the government seem unreliable in the eyes of many. Having said that, Turkey is very different from Wahhabi influenced regimes in the Arabian Peninsula. Turkish Islamic tradition has striking similarities with Iran’s Islamic culture and because of its strong Sufi tradition, Turkey is much closer to Iran than it is to, for example,Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.

The global Wahhabi menace has grown as a result of Saudi financial support, as well as the support of other countries in the Persian Gulf region. Turkish society has been more resistant, although ever since the military conflict in Syria and due to extensive funding from the Persian Gulf, there has been growing concern about growing sectarianism in Turkey, not unlike what happened in Pakistan in the 1980s.

Ironically, before the conflict in Syria President Erdogan had a closer personal relationship with President Assad than did the Iranians. They and their families would spend vacations together.

In any case, Turkey has a very strong economic, political, and cultural relationship with Iran, and some of the rising anti-Shia and takfiri sentiments that have been on the rise in Turkey were stunted by the Saudi and Emirati support for the attempted coup in Turkey. Subsequently, their open antagonism towards the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, their support for the coup in Egypt, their policies in Sudan and Libya, and of course the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, have all had a beneficial impact on Iranian-Turkish relations. As a result, Turkey has grown much more distant from Iran’s regional antagonists, while Turkish support for the Palestinian cause is another element that brings Iran and Turkey closer together. American support for PKK terrorists in Syria has also angered the Turks adding push to Turkish-Iranian convergence. Even Turkish policy towards Syria is evolving, although it is impossible for the government to make a radical change, because of years of attempts at regime change.

The Saker: Next, turning to Iraq, how would you characterize the “balance of influence” of Iran and the USA in Iraq? Should we view the Iraqi government as allied to Iran, allied to the USA or independent? If the Empire attacks Iran, what will happen in Iraq?

Professor Marandi: The relationship between Iraq and Iran is significantly more important than the relationship between Iraq and the United States. Iran and Iraq are allies, but this alliance does not contradict the notion of Iraqi independence. Iraq’s regional policy is not identical to Iran’s. But the two countries have very similar interests, a very close relationship, many Iraqi leaders have spent years in Iran, and the bulk of the Iraqi population lives close to the shared border of over 1,200 km between the two countries. So trade, pilgrimage, and tourism are key to both countries. The religious similarities and the holy sites that exist in Iran and Iraq are a huge incentive for interaction between the two countries. There are many Iraqi students studying in Iran and many Iranian’s working in Iraq. The fact that Iranians made many sacrifices when fighting ISIS in Iraq and many Iraqis were martyred in the war against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria is a strong indication of where things stand despite US pressure.

The Arba’een pilgrimage that takes place every year where millions of Iranians and Iraqis make the walk towards Karbala, side by side, with tens of thousands of Iraqi and Iranian volunteers helping pilgrims along the way is, I think, a further sign of the close relationship.

While the U.S presence in Iraq continues to be hegemonic, Iran has not sought to prevent Iraq from having normal relationships with other countries. However, the U.S continues to seek control over Iraq through the world’s largest embassy, its military presence, and its influence over the bureaucracy. The United States continues to have much say over how the country’s oil wealth is spent.

Still, despite the US colonial behavior, its continued theft of Iraqi oil wealth, and its thuggish behavior, the Iraqis have been able to assert a great deal of independence. In the long run, this continued US behavior is only going to create further resentment among Iraqis. The empire rarely takes these realities into account, they seek to accumulate influence and wealth through brute force, but in the long term it creates deep-rooted anger and hostility which, at some point, will create great problems for the empire, especially as this anger and unrest is growing across the region, if not across the globe.

It is highly unlikely that the regime in Washington will attack Iran, if it does it will bring about a regional war, which will drive the United States out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Syria. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates would, swiftly collapse and the price of oil and natural gas would go through the roof, leading to a global economic meltdown even as millions of people will be streaming towards Europe.

The Saker: It is often said that Russia and Iran have fundamentally different goals in Syria and that the two countries regularly have tensions flaring up between them because of these disagreements. Is that true? In your opinion, how are Russian and Iranian goals in Syria different?

Professor Marandi: The news that we sometimes hear about serious tensions existing between the Iranians and the Russians in Syria is often nonsense. There are clear reasons for people to exaggerate small incidents or to fabricate them altogether, but the relationship is quite good. Iran does not intend to have any military bases in Syria, whereas the Russians do feel the need to preserve their military presence in Syria through long-term agreements.

But ultimately, Iran would like to help enable Syria to acquire the military capability to retake the occupied Golan Heights. Iran does not intend to initiate any conflict with the Israeli regime inside Palestine. That is not an objective in Lebanon and that is not an objective in Syria. As in Lebanon, where the Iranians supported Hezbollah to restore the country’s sovereignty and to drive out the Israeli aggressors and occupiers, the Iranians have the same agenda in Syria. They want to support the Syrians so that they will be able to restore full sovereignty. I don’t believe the Golan Heights is a priority for the Russians.

The Saker: For a while, Iran let the Russian Aerospace Forces use an Iranian military airfield, then when this became public knowledge, the Russians were asked to leave. I have heard rumors that while the IRGC was in favor of allowing Russian Aerospace Forces to use an Iranian military airfield, the regular armed forces were opposed to this. Is it true that there are such differences between the IRGC and the regular armed forces and do you think that Iran will ever allow the Russian military to have a permanent presence in Iran?

Professor Marandi: That is a myth. The Russians were not asked to leave. There were no differences between the IRGC and any other part of the armed forces. This was a decision made by the Supreme National Security Council and the President and all the major commanders in the military were involved in this decision. Actually, the airbase does not belong to the guards it belongs to the air force and a part of the base was used for Russian strategic bombers that were flying to Syria to bomb the extremists. This cooperation ended when the Russians were able to station adequate numbers of aircraft in Syria, because the flights over Iran were long and expensive, whereas the air campaign launched from bases inside Syria was much less expensive and much more effective. Iran was very open about its relationship with the Russians, and openly permitted the Russians to fire missiles over Iranian airspace. There were those who were opposed to the Russian presence in the Iranian airbase. A small segment of Iranian society that is pro-Western and pro-American complained about it in their media outlets, but they had absolutely no impact on the decision-making process. According to polls, an overwhelming majority of Iranians supported Iran’s activities in Syria, and the Supreme National Security Council was under no pressure to its decision. However, Iran does not plan to allow any country to have permanent bases in the country and that is in accordance with the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The revolution in Iran was about independence, dignity, sovereignty and indigenous values, and the removal of American hegemony over Iran was very much a part of that. The Iranians will not give any bases to foreign powers in future, and neither the Russians nor the Chinese have ever made such requests. There are absolutely no differences regarding Iran’s regional policies between the IRGC and the rest of the military, both were a part of the decision-making process when the Russians were allowed to fire missiles over Iranian territory and both were part of the process in allowing Russian aircraft to use Iranian airspace. The Russian bombers were providing air support for Iranian troops and Iranian affiliated troops on the ground.

The Saker: Both Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah have made repeated statements that the days of the racist ZioApartheid regime in occupied are numbered. Do you agree with their point of view and, if yes, how do you see such a regime change actually happening? Which of the One State solution or a Two State solution do you believe to be more realistic?

Professor Marandi: I do not believe the two-state solution is possible because the Israeli regime has colonized too much of the West Bank. Actually, through acts of selfishness and petty short-term gain, the regime has damaged itself enormously. As a result of the colonization of the West Bank, even the European elites and diplomats who would privately admit that the Israeli regime pursues apartheid policies and who would always speak of hope for a two-state solution, admit that the two state solution is dead. All Palestinians are treated as sub humans, whether they reside in the West Bank or not. They are a subjugated nation, whether they are Israeli citizens or not. However, there is no longer any hope that those who live in the occupied West Bank will gain freedom, even though we predicted the Israelis would never voluntarily relinquish the West bank. This is the most important challenge that the regime faces in the future. By colonizing the West Bank and despite official western media and government narratives, it is increasingly seen by the international community as the apartheid regime that it is. It is delegitimizing itself in the eyes of larger numbers of people.

In addition to that, it can no longer behave with impunity. The 2006 war in Lebanon where the Israeli armed forces were defeated by Hizbullah was a turning point. Before then, the Israelis had created an image that they were invincible. But now even in Gaza, they are unable to carry out their objectives when they periodically attack the territory and its civilians. The Israelis are now more easily contained especially since the Syrian government has been able to restore order and expel ISIS and al-Qaeda from areas neighboring Israeli forces on the occupied Golan Heights, despite the Israelis supporting the extremists. The Israelis have been contained regionally, at home they are increasingly seen as an apartheid regime. Its regional allies are also on the decline and regionally. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the only countries that can be considered as effective allies and they are facing a potential terminal decline. Therefore, regionally the regime is becoming more isolated. I do not believe that under such circumstances, the Israeli regime can last for very long. Just as the apartheid regime in South Africa collapsed under the burden of its own immoral existence, the Israeli regime will not last. There will be no two-state solution, the only realistic and moral solution is for Palestine to be united and for the indigenous population to have its rights restored, whether they are Palestinians, Jews or Christians or anyone else who is indigenous to the land.

The Saker: Iran is an Islamic Republic. It is also a majority Shia country. Some observers accuse Iran of wanting to export its political model to other countries. What do you make of that accusation? Do Iranian Islamic scholars believe that the Iranian Islamic Republic model can be exported to other countries, including Sunni countries?

Professor Marandi: I do not think that there is any validity to that accusation. Iran has a very excellent relationship with Iraq, but it has not imposed its model on the country. In fact, Iran helped create the current constitution of that country. The same is true for Lebanon and Yemen. Iran is constantly accused by its antagonists, but in the most inconsistent ways. Elsewhere they claim that Iran is afraid of their model being exported because they are fearful of rivals. Iran has always been attacked from all sides often using self-contradictory arguments. On the one hand, the so-called regime is allegedly immensely unpopular, it is corrupt, it is falling apart, and it is incapable of proper governance. Yet on the other hand, Iran is a growing threat to the region and even the world. This is paradoxical, how can Iran be incompetent and collapsing on the one hand, yet a growing threat to the whole world on the other hand? This simply does not make sense. Nevertheless, I have seen no evidence that Iran has tried to impose its model on other countries or on movements that are close to it. If it was not for Iran’s support, ISIS and al-Qaeda would have overthrown Syria with its secular government and secular constitution. Iranians firmly believed that the terrorist forces supported by Western intelligence services as well as regional regimes were the worst case scenario for the Syrian people. Did they impose their model?

The Saker: thank you for all your answers!

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia joins US-led anti-Iran flotilla… in the name of national security & economic interests

RT | August 21, 2019

Australia will send a frigate and a spy plane in support of Washington’s dubious initiative to boost security in the Straits of Hormuz by filling it with foreign warships, increasing the risk of miscalculations and provocations.

“The government has decided that it is in Australia’s national interest to work with our international partners to contribute,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday morning. “Our contribution will be limited in scope and it will be time-bound.”

Following the US and UK lead, the former British colony will reinforce the sparse coalition with a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance plane this year and will dispatch a frigate next January for at least six months’ patrol, foreign affairs minister Marise Payne and defense minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

Besides this ‘limited’ contribution, Canberra also agreed to provide intelligence and other assistance, as the US faces an uphill battle trying to muster support for its “maritime policing” initiative. Previously, only the UK and Israel had volunteered to battle the much-hyped Iranian threat, following a series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers that were pinned on Tehran and reciprocal vessel seizures by Iran and the UK.

The Islamic Republic, meanwhile, believes the US is simply trying to enforce its unilateral oil sanctions through military pressure after failing to do it via political extortion.

August 20, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 4 Comments

US praises sanctions for killing Iran’s economy, then blames Tehran for people’s suffering

RT | August 20, 2019

The US State Department can’t seem to make up its mind about the cause of Iran’s economic woes, claiming Tehran’s “Marxist economy” is to blame even as it celebrates the devastation US sanctions have wrought on the country.

Speaking to reporters in New York on Tuesday, US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook assailed the Islamic Republic, demanding an end to its “lethal assistance…to terrorist organizations,” and running down a list of economy-ruining American sanctions currently imposed on the country.

“We have effectively zeroed-out Iran’s export of oil,” Hook said. “We have sanctioned Iran’s export of petro-chemicals, industrial metals, precious metals.”

“We have collapsed foreign direct investment. We have seen significant asset flight leaving the country. Iran is in a recession. Inflation is creeping up near 50 percent.”

However, Hook went on, it would be wrong to suggest that Washington is behind Iranian people’s struggles – despite having just argued precisely that. Instead, the fault was with Iran’s “Marxist economy” and ideological fervor, the envoy said. Sanctions? What sanctions?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in on the effects of US sanctions on Tuesday, but was more willing to take credit for their ruinous effects on Iran’s oil-dependent economy. Pompeo bragged to MSNBC that the sanctions continue to remove 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oil from the global market on a daily basis.

Unlike oil, Washington insists its sanctions do not target Iran’s healthcare system. In a propaganda video created by the State Department last month and addressed to the Iranian people, Hook claimed the idea was a “myth” pushed by the government. That is not to say the sanctions are not having a devastating effect, however. A recent report by Abbas Kebriaeezadeh, professor of pharmacology at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, found that US sanctions “are killing cancer patients in Iran” indirectly, creating dire drug shortages and skyrocketing prices.

Tension between Iran and the United States has soared in recent months, with US sanctions ratcheted back up after US President Donald Trump abrogated Washington’s part of a nuclear pact signed between Iran and world powers in 2015. The US sought to pin on Iran a series of suspicious attacks on commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf earlier this summer, while the shootdown of an American spy drone over Iranian airspace in June nearly triggered a US military response. Washington has since deployed a veritable arsenal to Iran’s doorstep – purely for ‘defensive’ reasons, of course.

August 20, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Why the World Is Watching the Fate of an Iranian Tanker in the Mediterranean

Will the Greeks seize it on a US warrant?

By Vijay Prashad – Monthly Review – August 19, 2019

At 11:30 p.m. on August 18, the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 left the shores of Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea. This ship had been detained 46 days ago by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s officials. The British claimed that the ship—then named Grace 1—was taking its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria. There are European Union sanctions against trade with the Syrian government. It is based on these sanctions that the British seized the Iranian vessel.

Last Thursday, on August 15, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo ordered the release of the ship after the Iranian authorities said it would not be going to Syria. The immediate destination for Adrian Darya 1 is the Greek port of Kalamata.

Sanctions on Iran

The British, it is clear, seized the Iranian tanker at the urging of the United States. There was no previous British warning that it might enter in such a muscular way into the U.S. attempt to suffocate Iran. Even the location of the seizure unnecessarily raised tensions for the United Kingdom. The waters around Gibraltar are contested between Britain and Spain, with the latter making noises about a formal complaint about the British action.

Gibraltar’s government has been trying to find a middle course between the claims of Britain and Spain. It seeks some form of independence, although with close ties with both its large neighbor and its formal occupant. When the UK asked Gibraltar’s authorities to get involved in the seizure of the Iranian tanker, Gibraltar’s government complied because the request was in line with European Union sanctions against trade with the Syrian government.

In Gibraltar’s courts, the British were largely silent. The case against the Iranian vessel was made by the United States, which changed the basis for the seizure. The U.S. argued that the vessel had to remain impounded as part of its new and harsh sanctions regime against Iran. When Gibraltar was preparing to release the ship, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., issued a warrant for the ship. This emergency warrant alleged that the ship was owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and therefore must not be allowed to sail.

Gibraltar did not agree. The U.S. tried to use its 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the new sanctions regime by the Trump administration. None of this appealed to the judiciary in Gibraltar. The government of Gibraltar said that it did not accept the new U.S. sanctions regime on Iran. It had held the vessel based on the European Union sanctions on Syria, not on any EU sanctions on Iran. Therefore, it has allowed Adrian Darya 1 to sail.

Iran’s Reaction

New statistics show that Iran’s economy has been decelerating at a rapid pace. The numbers from the Statistical Center of Iran show that Iran’s GDP shrank by 4.9 percent in 2018-19. Economic growth is slipping backwards, as the sectors of oil, industry, and agriculture post negative numbers. Inflation continues, with the inflation rate now at the highest it has been in a quarter of a century. Iranian traders have been moving their goods to Iraq, which results in the rise of prices within Iran. Most stunningly, the prices of non-trade goods and services—such as health and housing—are rising. All this has put enormous pressure on the government of Hassan Rouhani, although his spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Monday that Iran’s economy is experiencing “positive signs.”

Confidence from the Iranian government is remarkable. Officials in Tehran refuse to be cowed by the pressure from Washington, D.C. When the Adrian Darya 1 left Gibraltar, senior Iranian parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi said that its release was a result of “the revolutionary diplomacy of resistance.” He pointed to the seizure by Iran of the British ship Stena Impero, which continues to be detained in Iran. The British ship, Boroujerdi said, was being held for its violation of basic maritime rules in the Strait of Hormuz. The seizure of the Iranian ship—he pointed out—“was an act of piracy by England.”

Based on this assessment that the UK had indulged in piracy at the urging of the United States, Iran’s chief judge Ebrahim Raeisi said that the release of Adrian Darya 1 is not sufficient. Compensation must be paid to Iran. What compensation will be demanded from the UK is not clear, and it is further unclear where Iran will formally raise the issue of compensation. Iranian diplomats say that they might approach the United Nations based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Will Greece Hold the Tanker?

Within the Trump administration there is appetite to further block the passage of Adrian Darya 1, and make it a flashpoint toward war. That is what Trump’s adviser John Bolton indicated when Gibraltar held the ship. Make your move, he seemed to suggest to Tehran. Iran told the U.S.—through the Swiss authorities—that it must allow the ship free passage. If the Adrian Darya 1 is blocked, it would set a terrible precedent for international shipping.

When the tanker enters Kalamata, it will likely take on a new crew and then set its next destination. There is no indication as to what the ship will do with its 2.1 million barrels of crude oil. It is likely that it will unload its cargo onto another ship in international waters.

Last week, the U.S. government asked Greece to contribute to its naval force in the Persian Gulf. Greece, with its new conservative prime minister, declined—as did France and Germany—to this new U.S. initiative. The Greek government, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is eager for a close relationship with Washington, but it is not willing to enter a frontal clash with Iran. Greece is already in a heated situation with Turkey. To rattle Iran would only further complicate Greece’s fragile dance in the eastern Mediterranean. *

Greece, unlike the U.S., has taken the position that Iran has “the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes alone.” This is Iran’s position. The United States, as Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi told Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, opposes even a peaceful nuclear project for Iran. This is why Trump walked out of the 2015 nuclear deal. This is precisely why the U.S. has been putting immense pressure on Iranian shipping. And this is what led us to the story of the Adrian Darya 1.

*[Actually it is because of its “heated situation with Turkey” that Greece has sought US support at a high cost.] 

August 20, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Iran official calls for compensation for tanker seizure

Press TV – August 20, 2019

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi says Iran should be compensated for the seizure of an oil supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar after it was released on Thursday.

Britain’s naval forces seized the Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4 under the pretext that the vessel might be carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions on Damascus.

Iran says the UK’s reason for confiscation is not valid because Tehran is not a member of the EU and therefore its sanctions do not apply to the country. Moreover, the tanker was never headed to Syria, according to Iranian officials.

The tanker, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left anchorage off Gibraltar on Sunday after being released.

Raisi, however, said the release is not enough and Iran has to be compensated by those behind the seizure which Iranian officials have described as “state piracy”.

“The amount of time that it was seized will not be compensated just by it being freed,” the judiciary chief was quoted as saying Monday. “Damages must be paid so that it becomes a lesson for all those who act contrary to international regulations,” he added.

Reports said the vessel was heading to Greece after the release which Washington called unfortunate and warned Mediterranean ports against receiving it.

Iran has warned the US against trying to seize the vessel again. Since Gibraltar released the tanker on Thursday, Washington had launched a flurry of efforts to keep the tanker from leaving.

The US Justice Department even issued a warrant on Friday to seize the tanker, claiming that it had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which the US has designated a terrorist organization.

The Gibraltar government ignored the warrant, noting that the IRGC is not blacklisted in Gibraltar, the UK or in most of the EU generally.

“It’s unfortunate that that happened,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Channel about the ship’s release.

The US State Department said Washington had conveyed its “strong position” to the Greek government, as well as to all ports in the Mediterranean about facilitating the tanker.

Iran’s Navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said on Sunday his force is ready to send a flotilla to escort the tanker.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also warned of “heavy consequences” if the United States renewed its seizure request.

“Such an action, and even the talk of it would endanger shipping safety in open seas,” he said.

“Iran has issued the necessary warnings through official channels, especially the Swiss embassy, to American officials not to commit such an error because it would have heavy consequences,” Mousavi added.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran represents US interests in the Islamic Republic in the absence of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Tensions have escalated since US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May last year. Washington wants to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero under unilateral sanctions which it imposed on Tehran.

The tanker’s seizure is seen in line with Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign to bend Iran. When the ship was originally seized, Spanish and even Gibraltar officials admitted that it had come on the US request.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday because of US sanctions, Iran could not disclose where the oil would go.

Iranian MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh called on Britain to help the tanker reach its destination.

Iran still holds in its custody a British-flagged tanker which the IRGC impounded on July 19 for “violating international maritime law” in the Persian Gulf.

“The crisis with Britain is not over. Britain has the primary responsibility for ending the oil tanker crisis,” said Falahatpisheh who is the head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign affairs committee.

“Until the Iranian oil tanker arrives at its destination the British must help end the crisis,” he said.

August 20, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 3 Comments

US tells Greece any help to Iranian tanker may be ‘terrorism support’

RT | August 19, 2019

The US State Department has informed the Greek government of its ‘strong position’ regarding foreign states providing any assistance to Iranian oil tanker that was recently released by Gibraltar despite all Washington’s pressure.

Any attempts to assist the vessel, which was renamed from ‘Grace 1’ to ‘Adrian Darya 1’ and is now reportedly heading towards Greece, could be considered as “providing material support to a US-designated foreign terrorist organization,” a State Department official told Reuters.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, criticized Gibraltar’s ‘unfortunate’ decision to ignore US pressure. After it became clear last week there were no reasons to hold the vessel any longer, the US issued own warrant for its seizure, claiming the ship was involved in money laundering and financing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the Washington had designated as a terrorist organization.

The British territory explained it was not bound by US laws, pointing out that EU sanctions against Iran are far less sweeping than Washington’s own “maximum pressure” sanctions regime and that the vessel is complying with EU laws.

The Royal Marines seized the Iranian supertanker last month as it passed Gibraltar, accusing the vessel of illegally attempting to transport oil to Syria. Tehran emphatically denied the claim, calling the seizure an act of “piracy” undertaken at Washington’s direction. The Iranian navy has warned it is “ready to escort our tanker” should the US attempt to retake the Adrian Darya.

August 19, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments

The Deeper Meaning in a Lost War

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 19, 2019

It’s pretty clear. Saudi Arabia has lost, and, notes Bruce Riedel, “the Houthis and Iran are the strategic winners”. Saudi proxies in Aden – the seat of Riyadh’s Yemeni proto-‘government’ – have been turfed out by secular, former Marxist, southern secessionists. What can Saudi Arabia do? It cannot go forward. Even tougher would be retreat. Saudi will have to contend with an Houthi war being waged inside the kingdom’s south; and a second – quite different – war in Yemen’s south. MbS is stuck. The Houthi military leadership are on a roll, and disinterested – for now – in a political settlement. They wish to accumulate more ‘cards’. The UAE, which armed and trained the southern secessionists has opted out. MbS is alone, ‘carrying the can’. It will be messy.

So, what is the meaning in this? It is that MbS cannot ‘deliver’ what Trump and Kushner needed, and demanded from him: He cannot any more deliver the Gulf ‘world’ for their grand projects – let alone garner together the collective Sunni ‘world’ to enlist in a confrontation with Iran, or for hustling the Palestinians into abject subordination, posing as ‘solution’.

What happened? It seems that MbZ must have bought into the Mossad ‘line’ that Iran was a ‘doddle’. Under pressure of global sanctions, Iran would quickly crumble, and would beg for negotiations with Trump. And that the resultant, punishing treaty would see the dismantling of all of Iran’s troublesome allies around the region. The Gulf thus would be free to continue shaping a Middle East free from democracy, reformers and (those detested) Islamists.

What made the UAE – eulogised in the US as tough ‘little Sparta’ – back off? It was not just that the Emirs saw that the Yemen war was unwinnable. That was so; but more significantly, it dawned on them that Iran was going to be no ‘doddle’. But rather, the US attempt to strangulate the Iranian economy risked escalating beyond sanctions war, into military confrontation. And in that eventuality, the UAE would be devastated. Iran warned explicitly that a drone or two landed into the ‘glass houses’ of their financial districts, or onto oil and gas facilities, would set them back twenty years. They believed it.

But there was another factor in the mix. “As the world teeters on the edge of another financial crisis”, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj has noted, “few places are being gripped by anxiety like Dubai. Every week a new headline portends the coming crisis in the city of skyscrapers. Dubai villa prices are at their lowest level in a decade, down 24 percent in just one year. A slump in tourism has seen Dubai hotels hit their lowest occupancy rate since the 2008 financial crisis – even as the country gears up to host Expo 2020 next year. As Bloomberg’s Zainab Fattah reported in November of last year, Dubai has begun to “lose its shine,” its role as a center for global commerce “undermined by a global tariff war—and in particular by the US drive to shut down commerce with nearby Iran””.

An extraneous Houthi drone landing in Dubai’s financial zone would be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ (the expatriates would be out in a flash) – a prospect far more serious than the crisis of 2009, when Dubai’s real estate market collapsed, threatening insolvency for several banks and major development companies, some of them state-linked – and necessitating a $20 billion bailout.

In short, the Gulf realised MbS’ confrontation project with Iran was far too risky, especially with the global financial mood darkening so rapidly. Emirati leaders faced off with MbZ, the confrontation ideologue – and the UAE came out of Yemen formally (though leaving in situ its proxies), and initiated outreach to Iran, to take it out of that war, too.

It is now no longer conceivable that MbS can deliver what Trump and Netanyahu desired. Does this then mean that the US confrontation with Iran, and Jared Kushner’s Deal of the Century, are over? No. Trump has two key US constituencies: AIPAC and the Christian Evangelical ‘Zionists’ to ‘stroke’ electorally in the lead up to the 2020 elections. More ‘gifts’ to Netanyahu in the lead into the latter’s own election campaign are very likely also, as a part of that massaging of domestic constituencies (and donors).

In terms of the US confrontation with Iran, it seems that Trump is turning-down the volume on belligerence toward Iran, hoping that economic sanctions will work their ‘magic’ of bringing the Islamic Republic to its knees. There is no sign of that however – and no sign of any realistic US plan ‘B’. (The Lindsay Graham initiative is not one).

Where does that leave MbS in terms of US and Israeli interests? Well, to be brutal, and despite the family friendships … ’expendable’, perhaps? The scent of an eventual US disengagement from the region is again hanging in the air.

The deeper meaning in the ‘lost Yemen war’, ultimately, is an end to Gulf hopes that ‘magician’ Trump would undo the earlier Gulf panic that the West would normalise with Iran (through the JCPOA), thus leaving Iran as the paramount regional power. The advent of Trump, with all his affinity towards Saudi Arabia, seemed to Gulf States to promise the opportunity again to ‘lock in’ the US security umbrella over Gulf monarchies, protecting these states from significant change, as well as leaving Iran ‘shackled’, and unable to assume regional primacy.

A secondary meaning to Yemen is that Trump and Netanyahu’s heavy investment in MbS and MbZ has proved to be chimeric. These two, it turned out were ‘naked’ all along. And now the world knows it. They can’t deliver. They have been bested by a ragtag army of tough Houthi tribesmen.

The region now observes that ‘war’ isn’t happening (although only by the merest hair’s breadth): Trump is not – of his own volition – going to bomb Iran back to the 1980s. And Gulf States now see that if he did, it is they – the Gulf States – who would pay the highest price. Paradoxically, it has fallen to the UAE, the prime agitator in Washington against Iran, to lead the outreach toward Iran. It represents a salutary lesson in realpolitik for certain Gulf States (and Israel). And now that it has been learned, it is hard to see it being reversed quite so easily.

The strategic shift toward a different security architecture is already underway, with Russia and China proposing an international conference on security in the Persian Gulf: Russia and Iran already have agreed joint naval exercises in in the Indian Ocean and Hormuz, and China is mulling sending its warships there too, to protect its tankers and commercial shipping. Plainly, there will be some competition here, but Iran has the upper hand still in Hormuz. It is a powerful deterrent (though one best threatened, but not used).

Of course, nothing is assured in these changing times. The US President is fickle, and prone to flip-flop. And there are yet powerful interests in the US who do want see Iran comprehensively bombed. But others in DC – more significantly, on the (nationalist) Right – are much more outspoken in challenging the Iran ‘hawks’. Maybe the latter have missed their moment? The fact is, Trump drew back (but not for the stated reasons) from military action. America is now entering election season – and it is fixated on its navel. Foreign policy is already a forgotten, non-issue in the fraught partisan atmospherics of today’s America.

Trump likely will still ‘throw Israel a few bones’, but will that change anything? Probably, not much. That is cold comfort – but it might have been a lot worse for the Palestinians. And Greater Israel? A distant, Promethean hope.

August 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran to establish ferry link to Russia’s Dagestan across Caspian Sea

Naryn-kala Citadel museum, part of Derbent State Historical, Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve in the city of Derbent, Republic of Dagestan, Russia. © Sputnik / Vladimir Vyatkin
RT | August 18, 2019

Tehran is in talks with Moscow over plans to establish a ferry service across the Caspian Sea that would link Iran with Russia’s Dagestan.

The Iranian ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai, had earlier arrived in Derbent to discuss the development of relations between Iran and Russia’s Republic of Dagestan. During the visit, the two sides discussed the question of increasing cargo traffic through Makhachkala Commercial Sea Port, as well as the launch of direct passenger and cargo flights between Makhachkala and Tehran.

Among the issues discussed was a plan to set up a direct ferry service linking the two states, with the head of Dagestan’s republic, Vladimir Vasiliev, highly optimistic about the prospect.

“Derbent attracts Iran like a magnet and [the ferry service] will work. [Tehran] is ready to establish sea links with us, and we are ready to cooperate – and everything will work,” Vasilyev told journalists at a press briefing on Sunday.

He said that Iran’s business community had started to take an interest in Dagestan, in particular in Derbent, with a number of international projects already being implemented and set to transform the region.

“International projects are being implemented in Derbent, there are some very interesting solutions there. The city used to have a billion-plus [rubles] annual income, but now it is receiving four billion [rubles] more [from investors],” Vasilyev stated.

Earlier reports regarding cooperation between Dagestan and the Islamic Republic referred to plans to increase the sales turnover between the two sides, particularly to boost lamb exports to Iran from the current 4,000 tons to 6,000 tons by the end of the year. At present, the volume of trade between Iran and the republics of the North Caucasus is estimated at $54 million (€49 million), while the total Russian turnover is $1.7 billion (€1.49 billion).

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

US Demand to Detain Iranian Tanker Rejected by Gibraltar – Government

Sputnik – August 18, 2019

Gibraltar authorities on Sunday rejected another US request not to release Iranian oil tanker Grace 1.

“The Central Authority’s inability to seek the Orders requested is a result of the operation of European Union law and the differences in the sanctions regimes applicable to Iran in the EU and the US,” a Gibraltar government statement said.

“The EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar – is much narrower than that applicable in the US,” according to the statement.

Commenting on the decision, Iranian Navy commander, Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said Iran was ready, if necessary, to send warships to escort Iranian tanker.

“We do not plan to send ships to Gibraltar to escort Grace 1, however, as soon as such a request from the Iranian government is received, the Navy will be ready to send its fleet,” Khanzadi said, as cited the Mehr news agency.

On Friday, the US Justice Department issued a warrant for the seizure of the Iranian supertanker. According to the document, the vessel, all the oil aboard and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud, money laundering, and terrorism forfeiture statutes.

Following the detention of the tanker last month, acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell claimed that the vessel was detained at the request of the United States, which has long been seeking to curtail Iranian oil exports.

Gibraltar’s authorities later confirmed that Washington had made a last-ditch request to seize the tanker on a number of allegations.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , | Leave a comment

Iran made ‘no commitments’ over released tanker, Syria ‘wasn’t its destination’

RT | August 16, 2019

Iran has made no commitments to gain the release of its tanker from detention in Gibraltar, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

“Iran has given no assurances over the ‘Grace 1’ not going to Syria to secure its release,” a state broadcaster’s website quoted Abbas Mousavi as saying. “The tanker’s destination was not Syria… and even if it was, it did not concern anyone else.”

Fabian Picardo, chief minister for the British territory, said the detention order was lifted after written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge oil in Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

The tanker carrying Iranian oil is preparing to set sail into the Mediterranean, the deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Jalil Eslami, said on Friday. The ‘Grace 1’ will be renamed and switch to the Iranian flag for its onward journey, Eslami told state television.

August 16, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Russia’s Sound Proposal for Gulf Peace

Strategic Culture Foundation | August 16, 2019

There is an eminently reasonable and feasible way to avoid conflict in the Persian Gulf, and to secure peace. The principles of multilateralism and international law must be adhered to. It seems almost astounding that one has to appeal for such obvious basic norms.

Fortunately, Russia has presented a roadmap for implementing a security concept in the vital waterway based on the above principles.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, outlined a possible international coalition to provide security for commercial shipping through the strategically important Persian Gulf. The narrow outlet accounts for up to 30 per cent of all globally shipped oil on a daily basis. Virtually every nation has a stake in the safe passage of tankers. Any disruption would have huge negative consequences for the world economy, impacting all nations.

The Russian proposal, which has been submitted to the UN Security Council, is currently being considered by various parties. Crucially, the security concept put forward by Moscow relies on the participation of the Gulf nations, including Iran. Rather than being led by an outside power, the Russian proposal envisages a region-led effort.

This multilateral arrangement for cooperation between nations is solidly within the principles of the UN Charter and international law. Potentially, it can build trust and positive relations, and thereby reduce the climate of tensions and uncertainty which have intensified over recent months, primarily between the United States and Iran.

Washington has blamed Iran for several sabotage incidents on commercial shipping since June. The Americans have not provided any proof for their claims. Iran, for its part, denies any malfeasance and instead has pointed to a “malign conspiracy” aimed at stoking tensions, or worse, precipitate an all-out military confrontation between the US and Iran. Significantly, too, the problem of alleged sabotage and danger to shipping followed the increased deployment of US forces in the region during May, ostensibly to counter anticipated “Iranian aggression”.

One thing for sure is that the US proposal for a naval coalition led by Washington, purportedly to “protect shipping” in the Gulf, is a non-starter. Most nations have rebuffed the American plan. Germany, France and other European Union states have given it a resounding pass. Even Arab nations allied with the US, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have demurred on the idea. Significantly, too, the Gulf states have refrained from following Washington’s line of fingering Iran for the unknown sabotage incidents.

After weeks of lobbying for its US-led “navy coalition”, Washington appears to have recruited just two other partners: Britain and Israel.

The term “coalition” is therefore a misnomer in this context. It also has no credibility as a force serving to uphold international law and security. The position of the US-led axis is one of outright hostility towards Iran. It is premised on the flawed assumption that Iran is the “problem”.

Any such extra-regional military force is by definition a source of further insecurity and tensions in the Persian Gulf, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has noted. Arguably, any such US-led deployment is illegal because it is not mandated by the UN Security Council. The US plan relies on a unilateral imposition of American force along with a coterie of allies who have a long history of facilitating Washington’s militaristic adventures.

Indeed, moreover, one can easily perceive that the US claims about maritime security and safe passage are dubious. What Washington appears to be doing is cynically using “security concerns” as a cover for forming an aggressive front against Iran. The real purpose is to augment the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy towards Tehran in order to coerce that nation into ceding to American strategic demands. This US policy is, of course, illegitimate, arguably criminal. But it is being concealed, as the Americans usually do, with the pseudo-image of acting as the world’s “policeman”.

By contrast, it may be hoped that the UN and the nations of the Gulf region move forward to embrace Russia’s proposal for a genuinely cooperative, mutual effort to maintain peace. The only way forward is through multilateralism, mutual respect, dialogue and adherence to international law. Conflict is a lose-lose scenario. Peace is win-win.

Surely, if any party cannot support such a reasonable proposition, then the telling question is: why not? A negative response strongly suggests there is a disingenuousness about putative “security concerns”, and that an ulterior, sinister agenda is actually at play.

It should also be borne in mind that the present mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf have come about because the Trump administration took the reprehensible step of repudiating the international nuclear accord with Iran. That accord was signed by Iran, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union back in July 2015. The international treaty was endorsed by the UN Security Council. When Trump walked away from the US legal obligation last year, all the tensions that we now see with Iran have transpired.

As Russian envoy Dmitry Polyanksy told the press conference at the UN recently it is incumbent on Washington to return to the nuclear accord. Until then, for Washington to pose as some kind of security arbiter in the Middle East is too ludicrous for words.

August 16, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Gibraltar releases Iran-operated tanker despite US pressure: Paper reports

Press TV August 15, 2019

Gibraltar’s government has reportedly released an Iranian-operated supertanker, which was seized by British marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, despite pressure from the United States for the vessel’s continued detainment.

“Authorities in Gibraltar have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which was seized on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping 2.1 million barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions,” Reuters quoted the Gibraltar Chronicle as reporting on Thursday.

According to the report, the chief justice of Gibraltar’s supreme court, Anthony Dudley, said there was no US application currently before the court.

The Gibraltar Chronicle also claimed that the decision to release the Grace 1 tanker came after receiving formal written assurances from the Iranian government that it would not discharge its cargo in Syria.

Iran has strictly rejected claims that the vessel was ever carrying crude to the Arab country.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry reported after the incident that the UK had seized the vessel at the request of the US, which has been trying to trouble Iran’s international oil vessels as part of its campaign of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic.

Earlier on Thursday, Gibraltar said that the US had applied to seize the Iranian-operated oil tanker after British media reported that the vessel’s release was imminent following a set of diplomatic exchanges between Tehran and London.

“The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” the Gibraltar government said in a statement.

It added that the “matter will return to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) today.”

A diplomatic dispute broke out between Iran and the UK on July 4, when Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.

However, reports show the confiscation took place upon a call by the US.

Tehran rejected London’s claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said Tuesday that Britain was expected to soon free Grace 1, after the two sides exchanged certain documents to pave the way for the supertanker’s release.

August 15, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments