Iran’s Saviz “cargo” ship set up Red Sea attack on Saudi tankers


The attack on two Saudi supertankers on the Red Sea on Wednesday, July 25, was orchestrated by the Iranian Saviz, a weapons-carrying spy ship, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report.
Disguised as an Iranian-flagged cargo vessel, the 16,660-ton ship carries containers aboard and below decks filled with advanced surveillance gear for tracking commercial and military shipping on the Red Sea. Western and Middle East naval sources have for some weeks been watching the Saviz in a holding pattern between its home base on the Eritrean Dahlak archipelago and the Bab al-Mandeb Straits of the Red Sea.
Before the first Saudi supertanker Arsan was attacked, Saudi and United Arab Emirates intelligence intercepted signals from the Saviz informing Houthi coastal bases of the Arsen’s projected route opposite Yemen’s Red Sea coast with a timeline for when the tanker would come within range of the Yemeni rebels’ shore-based missiles. Our military sources estimate that the Houthis used Iranian C-801 or C-802 shore-to-ship missiles against both the Saudi super tankers they attacked. Only one achieved a direct hit to the Arsen’s stern almost certainly near the water line, but its warhead only partially detonated, causing a 2-3m hole in the hull. Had it penetrated any deeper and reached the 2 million barrels of oil in ship’s hold, one of the worst environmental disasters ever would have ensued. Several other Houthi missiles exploded in the water.
The day after the attacks, Iran’s Quds force chief Qassem Soleimani gloated: “The Red Sea is not secure with the presence of American troops in the area,”
Although the damage to the Arsen was indeed minimal as the Saudis claimed, they decided not to take any chances and immediately announced the suspension of oil shipping through the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb until conditions were secure. Oil prices shot up by one percent on the world markets. An estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil are shipped daily through the Straits of Bab al Mandeb, which is only 20km wide. Any move to block this Red Sea strait would virtually halt oil shipments from the Gulf through Egypt’s Suez Canal to the Mediterranean that are destined for Europe and the Far East.
Since October 2016, there have been eight Iranian-instigated attacks on US, Saudi and UAE warships and tankers sailing through the Red Sea. They were conducted by Houthis, who were trained in weapons and assault tactics by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah instructors. They taught the Yemeni insurgents how to use anti-ship missiles, fast explosive boats, speedboats equipped with RPG launchers, drones and sea mines. The Houthi missile strike on a pair of Saudi tankers differed from the preceding attacks in that for the first time, Iranians were directly involved.
The US only reacted once before to this aggression: A Houthi missile base on the Red Sea shore was smashed on the orders of President Barack Obama after striking the USS Mason warship on Oct. 9, 2016.
On Friday, July 27, sources in Washington reported that the Trump administration was weighing possible military action, including expanded intervention in the Yemen war, to keep the Red Sea oil shipping route open against Iranian threats to the waterway. Administration officials denied these reports saying that any military action would be taken by US regional allies such as Saudi Arabia, and not American troops. The Iranian naval spy ship Saviz has therefore got away with threatening a key international oil route, while Tehran has proved willing to perpetrate an unimaginable environmental calamity.


Bahrain: Hundreds Stripped of Citizenship


Bahrainis Deported from Homeland; Others at Risk

Hundreds of Bahrainis stripped of citizenship: report


Since 2012, 738 people lost their citizenship including journalists, human rights activists and religious scholars.

Bahrain has stripped hundreds of people of their citizenship since 2012, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In total, 738 people - including journalists, human rights activists and religious scholars - had their citizenship revoked through executive orders or court decisions, Friday's report said.
"While authorities claim that these acts are linked to national security, they are in fact punishing many people merely for peacefully voicing dissent," Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East director said in a statement.
"Bahrain seems intent on earning the dubious honour of leading the region in stripping citizenship." 
Out of the 738 revocations, 232 were carried out in 2018, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), which collected the data.
"What Bahraini authorities have done in stripping away hundreds of people's citizenship clearly violates international norms," Goldstein's statement said.
Once a person is stripped of their citizenship, they effectively become stateless.
At least eight of those stripped of their citizenship were deported to Iraq, the report said.
A law amended in 2014 allows the interior minister to strip the citizenship of any person that "aids or is involved in the service of a hostile state" or "causes harm to the interests of the Kingdom or acts in a way that contravenes his duty of loyalty to it".
Many of the cases are dealt with by civil or military courts, which have repeatedly violated fair trials according to HRW. 
Bahrain is a signatory of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which says that "every person has the right to a nationality, and no citizen shall be deprived of his nationality without a legally valid reason".
One of the people stripped of his nationality is Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Isa Qassim of his nationality, one of the leaders of massive anti-government that took place in 2011.
The Shia-led protests erupted across the country. That led to Sunni Gulf allies suspicious of Iran and opposed to growing Shia influence in the region to intervene, quashing the protests on behalf of Bahrain's rulers.
Following those protests, in which dozens of people died, hundreds of people were arrested and put on trial.
Authorities have refused to listen to opposition demands for reforms, including the establishment of a "real" constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister independent of the ruling royal family.


Abu Dhabi: Dangerous online dance craze may lead to Dh2,000 fine


Authorities are warning residents against an online dance challenge that has taken social media by storm.
In the last three days, the hashtag #Kiki was trending on social networking sites that mimics Canadian singer Drake’s popular music video for “In My Feelings”.

The idea behind the Kiki Challenge is to leave the car while its slowly moving, open the door and dance outside while the vehicle is still moving and driving itself.
Lt Col Saeed Obaid Bin Eran, Director of Traffic and Patrols Department at Umm Al Quwain Police, said that carrying out the dance can lead to a Dh2,000 fine, 23 black points and the vehicle impounded for 60 days.
Col Saeed Bin Aran, head of traffic and patrols at Um Al Quwain police, warned motorists against driving their vehicles in a “Kiki” manner and endanger their lives and the lives of others.
Emirati lawyer Yousuf Al Bahar told the Arabic online news website 24.ae that residents imitating the dance moves can be charged according to Federal Law No.12 of 1995, in addition to Federal Penal Code No.3 of 1987 for endangering people’s lives.
“The law gives police the power to arrest any person who drives their vehicle in a dangerous manner that can endanger the lives of the public,” said Al Bahar.
According to the news website 24.ae, Al Bahar explained that according to Article 59 of the Federal Traffic Law, a police officer, “may arrest a motorist for causing injury or death of another, driving in a dangerous manner that endangers the lives of others, or for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and losing control of the vehicle.”
Reckless driving can lead to a hefty fine, imprisonment or both, according to the Federal Penal Code.
Lt Col Jamal Salem Al Ameri, a traffic expert in Abu Dhabi, told Emarat Al Youm on Monday that motorists who undertake the dance challenge will be liable to the UAE’s traffic law.
Al Ameri stressed that individuals must adhere to traffic safety rules and regulations, always wear seatbelts and avoid getting out of the vehicle while driving for any reason.

Source Credit: Gulf News

Half a million Qatar-run fake accounts target Bahrain


A Qatari propaganda group which handles over half a million fake social media accounts posts 10 pictures online every 5 minutes in efforts to defame Bahrain, it was learnt.
Thousands of fake social media accounts are being used by the Qatari regime every day to defame Bahrain, this includes half a million Facebook accounts, 31,000 Twitter accounts, and 36,000 Instagram accounts.

This was revealed by the think tank ‘The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies’, which studies Middle East affairs. The organisation stated that after a comprehensive study, the accounts were confirmed to be fake created by Qatar. According to the research, a systematic defamation campaign is being carried out with Bahrain being the prime target.
The accounts posts fake news on a regular basis to hurt Bahrain’s social unity as well as to harm the Kingdom’s relations with Saudi Arabia, the research revealed.
He said that the accounts shared images created by Qatar which were designed to create a distorted negative view of Bahrain, especially among those in the West as well as to influence public opinion of those in Bahrain and in regional countries.
“Of the 31,000 fake Twitter accounts created, 21,000 accounts exclusively target Bahrain and Saudi Arabia while the rest of the 10,000 accounts also target Bahrain but not exclusively.” he said.
“They translated this [the posts] into English so that they can reach more people. They even translated it to Chinese in some cases! They know where they are targeting,” he said.
Many of the people in the photos of these fake accounts may look Bahrainis but these people do not exist, the photos are manipulated, he said.
“Some of the names they use are real Bahraini names while other accounts use a generic name such as “Bahrain nation” or “Bahrain Youth”. He said that 9,000 new accounts have been created to disrupt the upcoming Bahraini parliamentary elections.
Recently, the Ministry of Interior has also uncovered online hatred campaigns initiated by Qatar to jeopardise Bahrain’s security.
Qatar was behind a handful of controversial cases that were stirred up in Bahrain through the different social platforms during the past few weeks, the MoI stated earlier.


UK almost doubles arms sales to countries on governments list of human rights abusers, figures reveal


Jon Sharman

'There is little oversight in the system, and no controls over how these arms will be used once they have left the UK,' say campaigners

The UK nearly doubled the value of arms sales to countries on the government’s list of human rights abusers in the past year, figures reveal.
Licences for arms deals worth some £1.5bn were approved in Whitehall in 2017, up from £820m a year earlier, according to figures compiled by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade(CAAT) pressure group.
Sales were granted to 18 countries on the list, including ChinaSaudi ArabiaBahrain, Israel, Egypt and Pakistan, compared to 20 different states in 2016.
The value of sales to Saudi Arabia, currently embroiled in a bloody conflict in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions left in need of aid, alone totalled £1.13bn, the group said.
Theresa May’s government is “actively arming and supporting many of the regimes that even it believes are responsible for terrible human rights abuses”, CAAT’s Andrew Smith told The Independent.
He added: “There is little oversight in the system, and no controls over how these arms will be used once they have left the UK. The arms sales being agreed today could be used to fuel atrocities for years to come. Right now UK-made fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen, and the government and arms companies have totally failed to monitor or evaluate how this deadly equipment is being used.
“We are always being told how rigorous and robust the system supposedly is, but nothing could be further from the truth. These arms sales don’t just provide dictatorships and human rights abusers with the means to kill, they also give them a huge degree of political support.”
Israel was the second-biggest buyer of UK arms in 2017 to feature on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) human rights priority list, with £221m of licences granted.
In its watch list covering 2017, published this week, the FCO condemned Israel’s breaches of international law by its ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza and also “its systematic policy of settlement expansion”.
Rights abuses were also committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, it said, including 19 death sentences passed and six carried out by the former.
Bahrain bought £30.7m of British arms in 2017, Egypt imported £6.5m of arms and Pakistan, £11.2m. Sales to China, which is cracking down further on freedom of speech and religion, totalled £11.8m.
In recent months, reports have emerged of Chinese authorities detaining Muslims for re-education. Some claim they have been forced to disavow their beliefs and praise the Communist Party daily while being held without access to a lawyer. “Thousands of [Uyghur Muslims] were held in re-education camps after returning from abroad” in 2017, the FCO said.
In Bangladesh, which bought £38.6m of arms, there were continued “credible reports of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture by government agencies”, the FCO said, though it noted that the Bangladeshi government had taken in more than 688,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmarfollowing ethnic cleansing and religious persecution there.
A Department for International Trade (DIT) spokeswoman said: “The UK operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. We rigorously examine every application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. We will not grant a licence if doing so would be inconsistent with these criteria.
“As we leave the European Union, the government will maintain the integrity and effectiveness of our existing export licensing system.”
CAAT’s figures came as Parliament’s Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) made a number of recommendations for beefing up the UK’s arms export regime.
MPs said they were “not convinced” HM Revenue and Customs had sufficient resources to run its export control enforcement regime and that ministers should tighten restrictions on sales to countries accused of rights abuses.
The default position should be to block the sale of weapons to states that have not signed an international arms trade treaty, and those on the FCO’s blacklist.
The DIT spokeswoman added: “We will consider the report’s recommendations carefully and will respond in due course.”


US slaps terror designation on Iran-linked group in Bahrain

July 10, 2018 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States designated a Shiite militant group in Bahrain as a foreign terrorist organization Tuesday to ramp up pressure on Iran.
The al-Ashtar Brigades are “yet another in a long line of Iranian-sponsored terrorists who kill on behalf of a corrupt regime,” Nathan Sales, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department, said in a statement detailing the designation.
The militant group has been critical of a violent crackdown by Bahrain’s Sunni-led government on a 2011 Shiite-led uprising. It has since claimed responsibility for a number of bombings and attacks in Bahrain, including two that killed police.
The designation, which prohibits Americans or U.S. companies from doing business with the group, is the latest Trump administration effort to increase pressure on Tehran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear accord.
During a short trip to the United Arab Emirates Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is on a mission to convince Iran its behavior “is unacceptable and has a real high cost for them.”
Iran supports a number of armed groups across the Middle East including Hezbollah in Lebanon, armed forces propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and powerful armed groups in Iraq who fought against the so-called Islamic State there.
The United States is preparing to re-introduce sanctions on Iran later this year including secondary sanctions aimed at severely restricting the country’s ability to export oil. In turn, Iran has threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.
The Trump administration has targeted the al-Ashtar Brigades with sanctions before. In March 2017, the State Department blacklisted two individuals affiliated with the group, Ahmad Hasan Yusuf and Alsayed Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Alawi.
The Associated Press. 

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