Wed, 23rd August 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report


Archives of “strait of hormuz” Tag

The Saudi 13-part ultimatum to Qatar is insane

I don’t see how this can end well

Saudi Arabia doesn’t want peace. That’s the only conclusion from the list of demands leaked today.

The blockade against Qatar came out of nowhere and now they’re raising the stakes. Reuters reports on 13 demands that Saudi Arabia has issued and I don’t see how Qatar can accept them. They’ve been given 10 days and the consequences of not complying weren’t outlined.

What is clear is that the demands would be impossible, if not a capitulation.

Here they are:

1. Qatar must announce the reduction of diplomatic links with Iran and shut down its missions there. It must expel members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and limit commercial ties as long as they do not contradict international and U.S. sanctions on Iran or jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Qatar must cut any military or intelligence cooperation with Iran.

(Note: Qatar shares an enormous natural gas field with Iran)

2. Shut immediately the Turkish military base currently being established in Qatar, and halt any military cooperation with Turkey in Qatar.

(Note: This is another demand that’s extremely difficult to meet. In part because NATO wants to give Turkey more latitude)

3. Announce it is cutting relations with all terrorist, ideological and sectarian organisations, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Designate them as terrorist groups and add them to the lists announced by the four Arab states.

4. Cease funding of any extremist and terrorist individuals, entities and organisations, including those designated as such by the four countries, the United States and other international organisations.

5. Qatar must hand over all designated terrorists wanted by the four countries, the United States and other international organisations, freeze their assets, and stop hosting others in future. It must commit to present any information needed about them especially their movement, whereabouts, and financial information.

6. Shut down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels.

7. Stop interfering in the four countries’ domestic and foreign affairs. Stop allowing their citizens to become naturalised Qataris and extradite those who have been naturalised if they have violated laws in the four countries. Cut ties with the opposition in the four countries and give details of previous cooperation between Qatar and those elements.

8. Provide reparations to the four countries for any damage or opportunity costs incurred because of Qatari policies. The mechanism will be decided on in the agreement that will be signed with Qatar.

(Note: Asking for reparations is always a sign that you don’t want real peace, but punishment)

9. Align Qatar with its Gulf and Arab neighbours on all levels (military, political, economic, social and security) which guarantee national, Gulf and Arab security, and activate the Riyadh agreements of 2013 and 2014.

(Note: Societal is an interesting one. Qatar allows women to drive cars and for foreigners to consume alcohol)

10. Provide data showing which opposition groups Qatar supported and what help was provided.

11. Close all media outlets backed by Qatar directly or indirectly.

(Note: Asking a country to shut down all its media outlets is an over-the-top request).

12. All these demands must be agreed to within 10 days of the date of presentation, or they will be considered void.

13. The agreement will involve clear goals and mechanisms, with monthly reports in the first year, every three months in the next year and then annually for 10 years.

Iran Warns Of “World War, The Destruction Of Israel”, If Trump Tears Up Nuclear Pact

Ten days ago, we reported that as a result of Obama’s vow to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years, Iran threatened to retaliate, saying it violated last year’s deal with six major powers that curbed its nuclear program.

While US officials said the ISA’s renewal would not infringe on Obama’s landmark nuclear agreement (which may or may not be voided by Trump), and under which Iran agreed to limit its sensitive atomic activity in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions that harmed its oil-based economy, senior Iranian officials took odds with that view. Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, who played a central role in reaching the nuclear deal, described the extension as a “clear violation” if implemented.

“We are closely monitoring developments,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying. “If they implement the ISA, Iran will take action accordingly.” Iran’s most powerful authority, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned in November that an extension of U.S. sanction would be viewed in Tehran as a violation of the nuclear accord.

To be sure, that was merely jawboning by Iran, which has far less leverage and far more to lose if it antagonizes Washington and provokes the US into reimposing sanctions upon the Gulf nation, amounting to the tune of over 1 million barrels per day in foregone oil exports that would be taken offline, should the US impose similar sanctions as those which took the country’s crude export production largely offline in the 2013-2015 timeframe.

It is also the lesser of Iran’s worries: a far bigger concern is whether Trump will tear up Obama’s landmark nuclear agreement.

Iranian boats fire shots at Singapore-flagged vessel in Gulf

Five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel in the international waters of the Gulf on Thursday, CNN reported, citing a U.S. official.

It was unclear if the shots hit the vessel, CNN said. After the shots, the cargo vessel turned to the national waters of the United Arab Emirates, where that country protected it using its coast guard, CNN also said.

There were no U.S. personnel on the vessel, according to CNN. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report, and representatives for the Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment.

The shots at the Singapore-flagged vessel were fired as U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders from Gulf nations were set to meet at Camp David in a rare, high-profile summit on U.S. efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran. The United States and five other world powers are in talks with Tehran to curb its atomic program.

Iran, currently in a standoff with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition over security inspections of its own cargo ship, last month intercepted a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz. It forced that ship into Iranian territorial waters by firing shots across its bow.

Iran Sinks USS Nimitz Life-Size Model in Strait of Hormuz Naval Exercise

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched cruise missiles at a life-size copy of the US Nimitz aircraft carrier as they started naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, the country’s Tasnim New Agency announced.

The aircraft carrier model was sunk with four life-size Nasr cruise missiles, which have an operational range of 35 kilometers and a 150 kilogram  armor-piercing high-explosive warhead.

In addition, the Revolutionary Guards launched Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) ballistic missiles from a coastal port. The missiles have a range of 300 kilometers and can reach mach 3 speeds (at least 1020 meters per second).

The drills, dubbed Great Prophet Nine, take place in the Strait of Hormuz, a 39 kilometer-wide waterway which is the sole entrance to the Persian Gulf.

 Iran’s state television said that the war games’ goal is to “demonstrate the power” of the Iranian Navy in protecting the country’s interests in the Persian Gulf.

Iran Threatens To Close Strait Of Hormuz In Response To Foreign ‘Aggression’

The United States has nothing left to pressure Tehran over its nuclear programme except for war, and if it chooses conflict Iran could close a key energy chokepoint, its envoy to Baghdad told AFP on Thursday.

 Ambassador Hassan Danaie-Far insisted in an interview that Tehran retained the right to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of the world’s traded oil passes, in response to any aggression, military or otherwise.

“What else (US President Barack) Mr. Obama can do?” Danaie-Far said through an Iranian embassy translator.

“The only remaining card on the table is war. Is it to their benefit? Is it to the benefit of the world? Is it to the benefit of the region?”

The diplomat said that if it faced a “problem,” Tehran would be within its rights “to react and to defend itself.”

All eyes on Iran

On 16 January, world oil markets were monitoring talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)and Iran for any signs as to whether Tehran, facing intensifying sanctions pressure, and the IAEA may be prepared to reach an agreement to resolve outstanding issues pertaining to Iran’s nuclear energy programme.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop a weapons capability, saying its nuclear programme is aimed only at power generation.

Six world powers – the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain – and Iran may resume their separate negotiations later in January to try to reach a broader diplomatic settlement.

However, on 13 January Iran flexed its military muscle, holding exercises near the port city of Bandar Abbas, which holds a strategic position on the Strait of Hormuz, which has heavy oil tanker traffic. The drills also allowed Iranian military forces to operate new weapons. Iranian sources note that the exercises are “normal” and Iranian armed forces must be well supplied by new conventional weapons and prepared for any threat despite budget problems.

Iran Launches Week-Long Straits Of Hormuz Naval Drill On Friday, Next To US Aircraft Carrier

With the market still hopeful of some deus ex resolution to the Fiscal Cliff will take place in the last few trading sessions of the year (one where the market itself will not have to be the catalyst for such a resolution, because once the selling starts in earnest, who knows if and when it stops, hence the loading up on prodigious amounts of puts), here is Iran out of left field, adding yet another known unknown to the inequality, announcing that it will begin six days of naval drills in the Straits of Hormuz on Friday. In other words a one year flashback deja vu, as Iran held a similar 10-day drill last December, when everyone was expecting an imminent escalation out of the endless Israel-Iran foreplay and was analyzing which were the new moon days allowing Israel unobstructed access to the greatest distraction of all – Iran’s nuclear facility being moved under a mountain: a catalyst which Israel repeatedly said is the only reason to attack a weaponizing, nuclear Iran, and which took place some time in 2012. Now that the official window of opportunity is closed, will Israel tone back on the aggressive rhetoric? Hardly: after all that is precisely why the Syrian “outlet valve” has been put in play over the past 6 months.

Iran: Hormuz Strait Closure Bill Backed By More Than Half Of MPs

Just over half of Iran’s parliament has backed a draft law to block the Strait of Hormuz, threatening to close the Gulf to oil tankers in retaliation against European sanctions.

Lawmaker Javad Karimi Qodoosi, who drafted the document, said 150 of parliament’s 290 members had signed the bill, describing the strait as “the world’s lock” to which Iran holds the key, the lawmaker said.

And even though the final decision lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and the parliament does not really get to influence foreign policy, the move would lend significant political support to a possible decision to close the Strait.

A heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf and surrounding area is a big obstacle for any attempt to block the vital shipping route through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes. Qodoosi dismissed this obstacle.

“From a military standpoint, the power to close the Strait of Hormuz is 100 percent there … if we close the Strait of Hormuz, no country will be able to open it”, the lawmaker said.

Iran says US can’t clear Gulf of mines

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday scoffed at US claims that it could Gulf waters of mines in case of conflict, after Washington announced plans for a multinational anti-mine operation.

 “The Americans boast a lot about many things, but they are facing problems in practice,” General Mahmoud Fahimi, deputy chief of the Guards’ naval forces, told the Fars news agency.

“We have no doubt that the United States cannot do anything in the area of minesweeping.”

The United States and about 20 other nations are to hold a major anti-mine operation near the Gulf on September 16-27, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, after Iran threatened it could block oil shipments through the waterway.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the operation was “a defensive exercise aimed at preserving freedom of navigation in international waterways in the Middle East.”

Washington has warned Tehran not to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which the Islamic republic has threatened to do if international sanctions against its controversial nuclear programme begin to bite.

UAE starts pipeline to bypass Iran’s Strait

The United Arab Emirates yesterday inaugurated a pipeline to pump oil from east coast terminals, bypassing the strategic Strait of Hormuz which Iran has threatened to shut down, state-run WAM news agency reported.

The first shipment of 500,000 barrels of oil from the Habshan fields in Abu Dhabi were pumped through the pipeline to Fujairah oil terminal on the Gulf of Oman, where it was loaded on a tanker headed for Pakistan.

Energy Minister Mohammad bin Dhaen Al Hameli attended a ceremony in Fujairah for the launch.

Fears of a closure of the Strait of Hormuz have intensified amid repeated threats by Tehran to close the strategic outlet in retaliation for Western efforts to choke off its oil exports to rein in Iran’s nuclear programme.

Media reports in Tehran earlier this month said Iranian MPs endorsed a bill banning Europe-bound tankers from using the Strait of Hormuz to punish EU nations which have slapped sanctions on Iran.

On Thursday, US officials said the United States has deployed a fleet of robot subs in the Gulf to prevent Iran from blocking the strategic Strait of Hormuz with mines in case of a crisis.

The US military has been bolstering its presence in the region and sent four mine sweeper ships in early June, joining four other mine sweeping vessels already in the region, according to its Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.

And in late April, a squadron of F-22 stealth fighters was sent to an air base in the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, senior Abu Dhabi oil official Ali Jarwan said the Habshan-Fujairah pipeline would be fully operational in August. Construction of the 360-kilometre (225 mile) pipeline began in 2008.

In late May, Fujairah ruler Shaikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi said the pipeline will have an initial capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day rising to a maximum 1.8m bpd.

The UAE’s current production is about 2.5m bpd.