Oil Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Oil Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, the Front Altair, at a port in Estonia in 2018.

CreditArtjom Lofitski/EPA, via Shutterstock

Image
One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, the Front Altair, at a port in Estonia in 2018.

CreditCreditArtjom Lofitski/EPA, via Shutterstock

LONDON — Oil tankers came under attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian news media and a shipping industry official said on Thursday, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil.

The Iranian state news media reported that multiple tankers had been seriously damaged. A shipping industry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly to the news media, said that at least two tankers had been hit. The nature of the attack was not clear.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the United States Fifth Fleet said in a brief statement. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”

By The New York Times

An arm of the British Navy, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, reported that “U.K. and its partners are currently investigating” an incident in the gulf, about 40 miles east of the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, but offered no details.

Oil prices spiked early Thursday on the news.

In the region, Iran, on the northern side of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has long been at odds with its adversaries and neighbors to the south, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They support opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen.

The attacks in May worsened those tensions, raising concerns that they might lead to a violent clash between regional powers.

One of the tankers involved in the latest attack, M. T. Front Altair, was on fire, and the crew had abandoned ship and been rescued, according to the industry official. The ship, registered in the Marshall Islands, was carrying naphtha, a petroleum product, he said.

He said that contact had been lost with another tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous. There were news reports that it, too, was on fire and had been abandoned.

Egypt: Sisi Calls For Countering Extremism With Enlightened Thinking

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Sisi Calls For Countering Extremism With Enlightened Thinking

Monday, 3 June, 2019 – 10:45
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a speech during his swearing in ceremony on June 2, 2018, for a second four-year term in office, at the parliament meeting hall in Cairo. | Egyptian presidency / AFP
Cairo- Mohamed Nabil Helmy
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for strengthening efforts to confront extremism through an enlightened religious and intellectual discourse.

Speaking during a celebration of the Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr), Sisi the people’s behaviors could affect the image of their religion negatively or positively in other nations’ views.

“Strong religion could be weakened by its believers’ behaviors,” the Egyptian president said, adding that Muslims should represent Islam in a good way through their practices.

Sisi warned against the dangers of Islamophobia and called on religious scholars to raise the moderate religious awareness and combat extremism among the youth, adding that the enlightened religious discourse was the best way to fight extremist ideology.

Since his accession to power in 2014, Sisi has focused on the issue of “renewing religious discourse.” His official speeches and interventions at public events often include a call to religious scholars to use moderate rhetoric.

The president expressed his regret at the presence of some hardline and extremist intellectuals, who make Muslims feel insecure.

“We have been killed by our own people for years and we spent a huge amount of money on our security [to be protected] from this ideology,” he stated.

“Our main objective is to preserve the essence of religion and to educate young people to understand the dangers of radical thought on the one hand and the magnitude of challenges and risks on the other,” Sisi added.

Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 3-Member Terror Cell

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 3-Member Terror Cell

Monday, 3 June, 2019 – 11:15
Tunisia’s counter-terrorism forces uncovered a three-member takfiri terror cell. (Reuters)
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisia’s counter-terrorism forces uncovered a three-member takfiri terror cell that was plotting operations in the central-eastern areas between the Mahdia and Sfax regions.

It was headed by an ex-convict affiliated with the banned radical Ansar al-Sharia group and who was indicted in what is known as the Suleiman 2006 terror case.

Counter-terrorism task forces succeeded in arresting all members of the group while they were attempting to rob a wealthy residence.

Well-informed sources said that the terrorists had accused the rich figures of the eastern coast of Tunisia with apostasy and plotted to systematically plunder and pillage their assets.

During preliminary investigations, the suspects confessed to plotting multiple robberies against a host of victims.

They also confessed to abducting a wealthy resident and demanding a ransom from their family in return for their safe release.

After legal proceedings are concluded, it is likely that the suspects will be convicted and face jail time.

Separately, a Tunisian man in his thirties was tried in a criminal court on terror-linked charges.

Investigations revealed that he was in contact with senior leaders in the terror group, ISIS, and was involved in provoking attacks against security forces.

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

Friday, 31 May, 2019 – 10:30
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Reuters
Jeddah- Mohammed Al-Ayed
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has affirmed that the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted by Saudi Arabia in attendance of Arab, Gulf, and Islamic leaders is an opportunity to address the tensed conditions in the region and avoid the breaking out of the war.

Amid the tension arising from the Iranian interventions in the region, Qureshi said that the war won’t be in the best interest of anyone, and won’t serve the region or the global economy. In fact, it would weaken the investment and increase the threat of terrorist activities, he added.

Despite all, Iran remains part of the region and can’t be removed and that’s why there should be a way to deal with it, Qureshi asserted.

As for the ballistic missiles launched by Houthis – Iran’s arm in Yemen – towards Makkah, Qureshi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that any attack against the kingdom and the Two Holy Mosques is equivalent to an attack targeting Pakistan.

Qureshi stressed that his country will be ready in case any danger threatens the Saudi territories, lauding the continuous Saudi support to Pakistan.

Commenting on the attacks against energy sources and passages in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the Pakistani FM stated that these energy sources don’t only contribute to economy and trade development on the level of Saudi Arabia but the world overall.

Further, he considered that the Iranian intention to close the Strait of Hormuz would escalate regional crises — Qureshi urged Iran to desist from escalation and to open up to diplomacy because extremist means would not be constructive.

Qureshi noted that the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, to Pakistan brought several achievements to both countries, adding that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have key roles in the Islamic world that could boost stability and security in the region.

Afghanistan: Senior Cleric Among Casualties in Kabul Mosque Blast

( THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Senior Cleric Among Casualties in Kabul Mosque Blast

Friday, 24 May, 2019 – 11:30
Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 18 ,2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Asharq Al-Awsat
A bomb exploded in a mosque in the Afghan capital, Kabul, during Friday prayers, officials said, killing three people including a religious scholar and wounding at least 20 men who had gathered for worship.

The preacher, Samiullah Raihan, was a supporter of the Western-backed Afghan government which Taliban militants are trying to bring down. He was also a member of the National Ulema Council, Afghanistan’s top Muslim clerical body.

Firdaws Faramarz, a police spokesman, said explosives were apparently placed near the altar of the Al-Taqwa mosque, a place used by the mosque leader to initiate the prayers.

Jan Agha, a district police official, said the bomb was apparently planted in the microphone used by the mosque leader.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban and ISIS militants regularly stage attacks in the capital.

The explosion hit at a time when dozens of men had gathered for prayers. The death toll could rise, said a second official.

Egypt’s Dar Al Ifta: ISIS Issued Controversial Fatwas in Ramadan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt’s Dar Al Ifta: ISIS Issued Controversial Fatwas in Ramadan

Saturday, 11 May, 2019 – 09:45
AAAWSAT AR Website
Cairo – Waleed Abdurrahman
Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, an Egyptian body which works to keep contemporary Muslims in touch with religious principles, said that 10 religious edicts released by the terror group ISIS are highly controversial.

For the time during Islam’s holy month of fasting, Ramadan, the terror group outlawed keeping special calendars, allowing women outside homes during the day, decorating homes, and lighting incense.

“Hardliners and radical groups are the furthest away from the guidance and teachings of the prophet (pbuh) and his family. Prohet Mohammad, the messenger of Allah, taught values of compassion. He did not come to order us to kill or slaughter, nor to corrupt the earth,” a Dar al-Ifta source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Egyptian scholastic body is used as a global reference for Muslims looking for clarity on the “the right way,” the removal of doubts concerning religious and worldly life, and religious law for the new issues of contemporary life.

More so, the terror group has exempted fighters engaged in duty from fasting, releasing an edict which justified the exception by saying that fasting exhausts and strains combatants during battle.

Another fatwa prevented women from going out during daytime in Ramadan, so that their departure does not lead to sedition. Female Muslims, only when guided by a guardian, are allowed outside the confines of their houses after the intermittent fasting period is up.

Saying it aims to bolster devotion ahead of Eid El-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Islam’s lunar month of fasting, ISIS released another fatwa ordering the closure of all commercial shops 10 days ahead of the holiday. Its justification was that the closure of shops will help Muslims observe religious affairs more intently.

One of the more extreme ISIS fatwas was one which disclaimed the fasting of non-ISIS Muslims. This outrageously means that Muslim congregations living in ISIS-run neighborhoods could be subjected to punishment if found fasting during Ramadan.

India: BJP Leader Shot Dead By Militants In His Home

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

BJP leader shot dead by militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag

BJP leaders said that Ghulam Mohammed Mir was without any security which was withdrawn by the government recently.

INDIA Updated: May 05, 2019 09:25 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
breaking,death,crime'
Image for representation(ANI file photo)

Ahead of Monday’s final phase of polls for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, militants shot dead district vice president BJP in Anantnag district late Saturday night.

Ghulam Mohammed Mir,55, who had contested assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Anantnag was killed inside his house at Verinag.

BJP leaders said that Mir was without any security which was withdrawn by the government recently.

BJP state spokesman Altaf Thakur said that Mir was killed by militants inside his house on Saturday night. “He received several bullets and died on way to hospital.”

Thakur termed the killing of Mir barbaric and said despite threats from militants his security was withdrawn by the government. “He was under constant threat from militants, yet his security was taken back.”

Police spokesman said that unknown militants fired upon a member of the BJP Ghulam Mohammed Mir at Nowgam Verinag. “He was shifted to hospital in critical condition.”

This is the second attack on any political worker in South Kashmir. On Thursday militants shot and injured a civilian Abdul Rashid Bhat of Kuchmulla Tral. Bhat was a former member of a political party

Pulwama and Shopian districts will go for polls on Monday in the third phase. Due to security reasons, polls for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is being held in three phases. Two phases had passed without any militant attack on any worker.

First Published: May 04, 2019 22:45 IST

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Islamic Jihad threatens to escalate Gaza violence to all-out war

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Islamic Jihad threatens to escalate Gaza violence to all-out war

The spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad says the armed terror group in the Gaza Strip is poised to escalate deadly violence against Israel to an all-out war.

“The resistance is on the verge of a new level in facing aggression; a level that could lead to open war,” Mosab Al Braim tells the Hamas-linked al-Risala daily. “It will hurt the enemy like our people are hurting.”

Israel: Hamas Fires 200 Rockets Into Israel: IDF Strikes Targets In Gaza

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Army says 200 rockets fired toward Israel, injuring 2; IDF hits targets in Gaza

IDF says dozens of projectiles intercepted by Iron Dome; Army strikes 30 targets as sirens sound in border communities, Rehovot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beit Shemesh

Women look at the damage caused by a rocket fired from Gaza that hit a house in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, Saturday, May 4, 2019 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Women look at the damage caused by a rocket fired from Gaza that hit a house in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, Saturday, May 4, 2019 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday afternoon launched a series of strikes on the Gaza Strip from both land and air, as around 200 rockets were fired toward Israel from the Palestinian enclave.

The army said dozens of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

A woman, aged around 80, was in serious condition after being hit by shrapnel from a rocket in Kiryat Gat, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of the Gaza Strip. She was treated by medics at the scene and taken to hospital, where she was in stable condition.

A man was in a moderate condition after he was injured by shrapnel after a rocket attack on the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Shortly after 3 p.m. the army said fighter jets and tanks had struck 30 “terror targets” in the Strip belonging to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups. The operations were ongoing.

Medics treat a woman hurt by rocket shrapnel in Kiryat Gat on May 4, 2019 (Channel 12)

The army said it targeted several Hamas compounds in Gaza City used for training and for weapons production. It said one of the sites was used by the organization’s naval force.

It also struck several Islamic Jihad compounds throughout the Strip, and a number of rocket launchers and outposts near the border.

The strikes came after IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi held talks with Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, Southern Command chief Herzi Halevi and other top brass. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, was set to hold consultations at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv as well.

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The strikes were in response to around 200 rockets launched at Israeli communities from the Strip since the morning, with thousands of Israelis forced into shelters throughout multiple towns and cities near Gaza, including in Rehovot, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Sderot.

And at 3 p.m. sirens sounded for the first time as far as Beit Shemesh, a city 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Jerusalem.

Objects are scattered in a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli village of Netiv Ha’asara, on May 4, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted dozens of projectiles.

A home in a community in the Eshkol Regional Council suffered a direct hit, without reported casualties, as the residents had run to a nearby shelter moments earlier once sirens were heard. Police were at the scene.

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Also in Eshkol, a rocket fell inside a community but did not cause damage. Another rocket impacted on Route 4, a major highway, near Ashkelon. Sappers handled the rocket remains.

Magen David Adom said none were injured by the rocket barrages. However, a 15-year-old boy was lightly hurt running to a shelter, and two people suffered from shock.

A picture taken from the Gaza Strip on May 4, 2019, shows smoke billowing following an airstrike by Israel in response to rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

In its initial response to the attacks in the morning, the IDF said the air force struck at least two rocket launchers in the Strip, and tanks fired at several posts belonging to the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said a 22-year-old man was killed and four people were injured by the Israeli strikes. It did not say whether the casualties were people affiliated to any terror group. Channel 12 news reported that the dead man may have been a member of a rocket-launching squad that had fired at Israel, but there was no official confirmation.

No Gaza terror group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. However, Hamas in a statement said it was “prepared to respond to Israel’s crimes” and vowed to stop it from “spilling the blood of our people.” Gaza’s second-largest terror group, Islamic Jihad, warned that “If Israel continues the aggression it will face surprises.” And a spokesperson for the Popular Resistance Committees said “The resistance groups are breaking the formula that Israel tried to create, whereby it could attack without there being a response.”

An unidentified Hamas source told the Haaretz newspaper that the group had “warned of escalation for the past two weeks due to the delay in carrying out the understandings of the ceasefire. In Israel they asked for calm and got it, and in the Strip we didn’t get any improvement.”

According to the Walla news site, IDF troops in the region were alert to possible attempts to snipe at or launch anti-tank missiles at forces near the border, as well as possible abduction attempts.

An Israeli soldier at the scene where a house was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on May 4, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In light of the ongoing attacks, the IDF’s Home Front Command issued instructions for residents in affected areas to remain near protected spaces. It also limited public gatherings to 300 people in enclosed spaces only and halted agricultural work. Many municipalities opened public shelters. Beaches and national parks in the south were closed, and sporting events canceled.

The instructions applied to communities in the border area near Gaza, the central Negev, Lachish region and southern Shfela plain.

The rocket attacks came a day after two soldiers were shot and injured while on patrol near the border in southern Gaza. One soldier was moderately wounded in the attack and a female soldier was lightly hurt, the IDF said.

In response to the shooting, an IDF aircraft attacked a nearby Hamas post, the army said. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said two people were killed in the strike and two others were wounded.

Hamas confirmed the two men killed in the airstrike were members of its military wing and pledged to respond to what it called “Israeli aggression.”

The Hebrew-language Twitter account of the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency issued a threat to Israel Friday night: “We will respond to the crimes of the occupation and the killing of our people.”

The Islamic Jihad also said it held Israel responsible for the deaths.

The incidents, which marked a serious escalation, came during weekly border protests in which several thousand Gazans gathered at five sites. Some of the demonstrators rioted, throwing rocks and makeshift explosive devices at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

Palestinianss clash with Israeli troops during protests at the Israel-Gaza border, on May 3, 2019 (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

A third Palestinian was killed during the border riots, the Gaza health ministry said, identifying him as Ra’ed Khalil Abu Tayyer, 19, adding that 40 protesters had been injured. The IDF said troops had identified several attempts to breach the fence. Overnight Friday, a fourth Palestinian died from injuries sustained during the riots, according to Hebrew media reports.

On Thursday, a Hamas delegation led by the group’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar traveled to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials on a truce with Israel, Hamas officials said.

That agreement has appeared to be under stress in recent days, with Palestinians launching arson balloons and rockets into Israel and Israeli warplanes striking Hamas targets.

A picture taken from Moshav Netiv Ha’asara in southern Israel shows rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory on May 4, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Hamas has said the incendiary balloons were a message to Israel not to hold up the transfer of millions of dollars in Qatari aid funds to the cash-strapped Hamas government in Gaza.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007. Jerusalem says it is necessary to prevent terror groups from rearming and becoming an even greater menace.

The sides are bitter enemies and have fought three wars and engaged in numerous smaller flare-ups of violence.

Tensions have been rising in recent days amid allegations from Hamas that Israel has been delaying implementation of last month’s ceasefire understandings.

Following heavy fighting in early April, Israel agreed to ease the blockade in exchange for a halt to rocket fire. This included expanding a fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, increasing imports into Gaza and allowing the Gulf state of Qatar to deliver aid to cash-strapped Gaza.

Hamas has hoped that Egyptian mediators could further ease the blockade, which has ravaged Gaza’s economy. For over a year, the Islamic group has orchestrated mass demonstrations each week along the Israeli frontier to draw attention to Gaza’s plight.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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8 LNA Soldiers Killed In Attack In Southern Libya

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

8 LNA Fighters Killed in Attack in Southern Libya

Saturday, 4 May, 2019 – 10:30
Fighters from the Libyan National Army attend their graduation ceremony at a military academy in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi on April 18, 2019. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Eight fighters from Libyan National Army (LNA) were killed Saturday in an attack on their training camp in the southern city of Sebha, announced head of the local municipality Hamed al-Khaiyali.

A source from the LNA accused the ISIS terrorist group and Chadian opposition fighters of being behind the attack.

The LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, had launched last month an operation against Tripoli to liberate it from terrorist gangs and militias loyal to the Government of National Accord.

Haftar’s forces have been marching steadily on the capital, with the LNA bringing in reinforcements in recent days.