6 ships in Gulf of Oman lose control, days after vessel attacked by drones

Reports say Iranian-backed forces may have seized Asphalt Princess tanker; British military calls it a ‘potential hijack’

The Israeli-linked Japanese-owned tanker MT Mercer Street is seen off the port of the Gulf Emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on August 3, 2021. (Karim SAHIB / AFP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — At least six ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates broadcast warnings Tuesday that they had lost control of their steering under unclear circumstances as British authorities reported “a potential hijack” was underway in the area.

It wasn’t immediately clear what was happening off the coast of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman.

According to the Reuters news agency, which quoted two security maritime sources, Iranian-backed forces were believed to have seized one of the tankers.


Shipping authority Lloyd’s List and maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global both identified the vessel involved as Panama-flagged asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess. The vessel’s owner, listed as Emirati free zone-based Glory International, could not immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The six vessels announced around the same time via their Automatic Identification System trackers that they were “not under command,” according to MarineTraffic.com. That typically means a vessel has lost power and can no longer steer.

“At the same time, if they are in the same vicinity and in the same place, then very rarely that happens,” said Ranjith Raja, an oil and shipping expert with data firm Refintiv. “Not all the vessels would lose their engines or their capability to steer at the same time.”

One of the vessels later began moving.

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Israel: EU legitimizing terror by sending diplomat to Raisi inauguration

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has stated that the EU is legitimizing Iranian aggression by sending its deputy foreign affairs chief to the inauguration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi attends a news conference in Tehran, Iran June 21, 2021.

The EU is legitimizing Iranian aggression by sending its deputy foreign affairs chief to the inauguration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated on Monday.

Enrique Mora, the EU coordinator in Iran nuclear talks and deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Services, the EU’s foreign ministry, plans to attend Raisi’s inauguration. The event is set to take place less than a week after Iran attacked an Israeli-managed ship of the coast of Oman, killing a citizen of Romania – an EU member state, and a British national.
Israel called on the EU to cancel its participation in the event.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat said “the decision of the European Union to send a senior representative to the swearing-in ceremony of the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ is puzzling and shows poor judgment.”
Raisi’s nickname refers to the former judge’s role in the execution of thousands of Iranian dissidents, which earned him US sanctions for human rights violations.
Calling the attack on the Mercer Street an act of state-sponsored terror, Haiat said EU attendance at Raisi’s swearing in “gives legitimacy to the Iranian attack and the policy of aggression of the ayatollahs’ government.”
Former EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini attended the inauguration of Iran’s departing president, Hassan Rouhani.
However, the current ceremony is taking place after a nearly two-months break from indirect negotiations between Iran and the US to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Mora’s visit to Iran is meant in part to break the impasse and revive the talks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Some of the European parties to the 2015 Iran deal – the UK, France and Germany, known as the E3 – objected to sending Mora to the inauguration, but none of the non-E3 European Union member states opposed it, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Earlier Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that “Iran should face up to the consequences of what they’ve done.”
“This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping. A UK national died. It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country, respects the freedoms of navigation around the world and the UK will continue to insist on that,” Johnson added.
The US, UK and Romania have said they are coordinating a response to the Iranian attack.

Ebrahim Raisi takes office as Iran’s president, vows to fight U.S. sanctions

Iranian religious leader Ali khamenei hands over the presidential precept to new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi (R) during a ceremony Tuesday in Tehran, Iran. Photo courtesy Iranian Supreme Leader Office/EPA-EFE

Aug. 3 (UPI) — Iran’s next president, Ebrahim Raisi, was formally endorsed on Tuesday by Iranian religious leader Ali Khamenei and took office during a ceremony in Tehran.

Raisi during the ceremony promised to take actions to lift “cruel sanctions” imposed by the United States, and said he would not tie the country’s future with the West.

As Iran’s eighth president, he also noted that he plans to continue talks with world powers concerning the 2015 nuclear deal. He succeeds Hassan Rouhani, who has led the Islamic nation since 2013.
Raisi, 60, also spoke about comprehensive economic and health plans to help lift Iran from the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also pledged to fight corruption and restore people’s trust in government.

Rouhani says Iran ‘did not tell part of the truth’ during his time in office

Outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged in an address on Saturday that the government in Tehran “did not tell part of the truth” at times during his eight years in office.

As Reuters reports, Rouhani made his remarks during his last cabinet meeting as president and just days after he was lectured by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the country’s recent failures in nuclear negotiations.

“What we told people was not contrary to reality, but we did not tell part of the truth to people,” Rouhani said.  “Because I did not find it useful and I was afraid it would harm national unity.”

Rouhani did not specify what he was referring to with the remarks, Reuters reports.

“If we have a defect, we apologize to the people and ask them for forgiveness and mercy,” he added.

Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Khamenei, won Iran’s presidential election last month. The hardline cleric’s ascension could complicate the ongoing nuclear negotiations, with critics pointing to his history of allegedly “disappearing” political dissidents. 

Rouhani blamed former President Trump, who withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, for much of Iran’s problems. Trump’s decision to withdraw caused the Iranian rial to plummet in value and prevented Tehran from following through with some plans due to lack of funds.

“We did not have the money to buy due to sanctions and not selling oil, but the contract is completely ready,” Rouhani said, referring to the Iranian nuclear deal.

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You won’t hear the corporate media say very much about the “shadow war” that Israel and Iran are currently engaged in, because the corporate media is absolutely obsessed with covering the internal strife that is tearing the U.S. apart right now.  But if they were doing their jobs correctly, corporate media outlets would be focusing on the Middle East, because the conflict between Israel and Iran could literally spark a major global war at any moment.

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Iran’s Zarif blames Israel for Natanz incident, vows revenge

Contrary to last year’s attack on Natanz, Iran has chosen not to shy away from directly blaming Israel and singling out its efforts to derail nuclear talks in Vienna.

Tehran, Iran – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif vowed revenge against Israel for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear facilities at Natanz but said it will not stop high-level talks to restore the country’s nuclear deal with world powers.

In a private meeting with lawmakers on Monday, Zarif pointed out that top Israeli officials explicitly said they would try to prevent multilateral efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which would lead to lifting United States sanctions on Iran.

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Iran, Russia and Turkey signal growing alliance

For years, Turkey would say one thing to Moscow and Tehran while telling Washington’s Iran hawks that Turkey was “against Russia and Iran.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was very content during a trip to Turkey on Friday. He said it was productive and smiled alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. He said it was a “wonderful” trip where he spoke with his “brother Cavusoglu.”
The trip signals the growing alliance that Turkey and Iran have in the region.

Israel needs the B-52 and MOP in order to deter Iran

Knowing Israel can destroy their nuclear sites will deter Iran from trying to produce a nuclear weapon.

US President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to negotiate with Iran. If it does not work, the US will have to deter Iran from producing nuclear weapons. Another scenario is that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, might survive and even be improved following future negotiations. 
It would include strict monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, but this will not be sufficient. Deterrence will also be required. Negotiations will deficiently be needed when the JCPOA expires – or even before that if Iran assumes it has the opportunity to produce the bomb. This could happen if the US is deeply busy with a major crisis somewhere, such as with China. Either way deterrence, based on boosting Israel’s military capabilities, should be part of the effort to make sure Iran does not try to produce a nuclear weapon

Iranian investigator claims Israel behind attack on cargo ship in Mediterranean

Accusation comes shortly after US officials tell Wall Street Journal that Israel has hit many ships taking Iran oil and arms to Syria

A fire is seen on the Iranian Shahr E Kord cargo ship in the Mediterranean on March 10, 2021. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Israel is the likely suspect behind an attack this week in the Mediterranean that damaged an Iranian cargo ship, an Iranian investigator told local media Saturday, according to Reuters.

An unnamed member of the investigation team told the semi-official Nournews that “considering the geographical location and the way the ship was targeted, one of the strong possibilities is that this terrorist operation was carried out by the Zionist regime,” the report said.

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Military action may be only way to stop Iran, former Trump official says

Elliott Abrams said that going back to the JCPOA in 2021 is not a simple prospect.

Servants of the holy shrine of Imam Reza carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Mashhad, Iran November 29, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

If Iran is “absolutely determined” to develop a nuclear weapon, the only way to stop the rogue regime may be militarily, according to Elliott Abrams.
If that assumption is correct, then “ultimately Israel and the United States will have to face that.”