Navy Lieutenant Commander Yang (楊) was found hanging by the neck in his room at the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base early Sunday, hours after one of the soldiers injured in the drill died in hospital, according to a Navy press release, which did not give Yang’s full name.
The US Navy will send two aircraft carriers and several accompanying warships to the South China Sea in the coming days to participate in a military exercise.
The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups are conducting dual carrier operations in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea,“ said Lt. Joe Jeiley, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet.
Ties between NATO allies France and Turkey have soured in recent weeks over Libya, Northern Syria and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
A group of 20 men evacuated from Benghazi, Libya and suspected of having been contracted to lend support to General Khalifa Haftar’s forces, were held under arrest in Malta for two days before being released without charge.
Multiple law enforcement sources speaking to this newspaper say the police are still investigating the incident, almost a year on since the arrival of the men on two RHIBs (rigid-hull inflatable boats) at the Valletta seaport in June 2019.
The abortive mercenary expedition last summer was organized and financed by a network of secretive companies in the United Arab Emirates, according to a confidential report submitted to the United Nations Security Council in February. The companies are controlled or part-owned by Christiaan Durrant, an Australian businessman and former fighter pilot who is a close associate of Erik Prince, America’s most famous mercenary entrepreneur.
Opus and Lancaster 6 financed and directed an operation to provide Haftar’s forces with helicopters, drones and cyber capabilities through a complex web of shell companies, according to two diplomats who briefed Bloomberg on the contents of the UN Panel of Experts report shared with the Security Council’s sanctions committee in February. The diplomats also shared excerpts of the report with Bloomberg.
An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target, killing at least 19 sailors and wounding 15 others, Iran’s navy said in a statement on Monday.
The friendly fire incident happened Sunday near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported Monday.
In 2018, it was reported that Greece would lease seven Heron medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) UAVs as part of a three-year contract worth 35.5 million euros.
Modly relieved Captain Brett Crozier of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week, after Crozier wrote a memo detailing the desperate situation aboard the ship, where dozens of sailors among the 4,000-person crew tested positive for the coronavirus.
‘WE WANT OUR CAPTAIN BACK’
An online petition calling for Crozier to be reinstated had been signed by more than 120,000 people.
The commander of a US aircraft carrier that has been hit by a major outbreak of coronavirus has been relieved of command for showing „poor judgment“ days after writing a memo warning Navy leadership that decisive action was needed to save the lives of the ship’s crew, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced on Thursday.
The Dynamic Manta 2020 drill – an annual advanced anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare exercise – kicked off on Feb. 24 off Italy’s Sicily Island and will continue through March 6.
The joint Saudi–US joint exercise titled “Marine Defender” kicked off in the Persian Gulf on Sunday.
European Union foreign ministers agreed to revive a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea to enforce the internationally backed arms embargo on Libya, a move likely to encounter stiff challenges given the recent arms buildup by regional powers in the North African country.
One European diplomat said there was agreement among the bloc’s 27 members to strengthen U.N. monitoring of the embargo, but not on the issue of dispatching naval assets.
The diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Austria has objected to putting naval ships back into the Mediterranean, and issue that would likely come up at the annual Munich Security Conference over the weekend.
The United States has about 5,000 troops in Iraq leading the fight against ISIS. There are also about 800 U.S. troops fighting ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, about 14,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan helping Afghan forces fight the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism operations against groups such as ISIS.
Outside of combat zones, the United States has also deployed about 14,000 more troops throughout the Middle East since the summer in an effort to deter Iran.
December 29, 2019
„Iran has long stated its readiness to work w/our neighbors to secure the Persian Gulf. #HOPE-Hormuz Peace Endeavour-is on the table right now.“
„The ship’s 16 crew who are of Malaysian nationality were arrested,“ the Guards‘ naval commander for the region, Brigadier-General Ali Ozmayi, was quoted as saying.
Abu Musa is one of three islands in the southern Gulf that are under Iranian control but claimed by the United Arab Emirates.
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe briefed visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tokyo’s plan to send naval forces to the Gulf.
France and Qatar signed an agreement allowing France to deploy and station military forces within Qatar.
The Netherlands said on November 25 that it would join Denmark and France in the European naval mission, reported the NLTimes. The Netherlands said it would deploy a navy ship to the Persian Gulf for six months but said it would play an “observing” role. Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden are also expected to join the European coalition, the Tehran Times reported.
Iranian military spokesman General Abolfazl Shekarchi said the joint maneuvers, which are aimed at promoting regional security, will extend as far as the Sea of Oman. The drill is seen as a response to recent U.S. maneuvers with its regional ally Saudi Arabia, in which China also participated.
Between Sunday and Tuesday it sailed south from South Carolina past Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida, where there are several military bases.
My reports & pictures soon in @PtisiMagazine
Turkey announced a 4-hour naval exercise in the Aegean for Monday, to take place in international waters south of Rhodes and east of Karpathos.
„I wouldn’t discount anything from Iran,” he said. “When a nation behaves that irresponsibly, you have to be very cautious when you evaluate what they might do in the future.”
McKenzie noted that Iran increased its military spending from its recent low in 2014 to $27.3 billion, or six percent of GDP, in 2018.
On Sunday, leaders, foreign ministers and defense officials from around the world gathered in Bahrain to attend the Manama Dialogue organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies. At the meeting, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said France intends to fill the void created by a “deliberate, gradual U.S. disengagement” from the Middle East.
Jerusalem Post Middle East analyst Seth Frantzman called Parly’s speech a “shot across the bow of U.S. policy” and a “signal” that France is seeking “a deeper role” in Middle East security.
President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. Before the trial began, in March, I received two calls from the president asking me to lift Gallagher’s confinement in a Navy brig; I pushed back twice, because the presiding judge, acting on information about the accused’s conduct, had decided that confinement was important. Eventually, the president ordered me to have him transferred to the equivalent of an enlisted barracks. I came to believe that Trump’s interest in the case stemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers and others had worked to keep it front and center in the media.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that President Trump gave him a direct order to allow a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes to retire without losing his SEAL status.
Esper told reporters at the Pentagon that Trump’s verbal order was the reason Esper announced Sunday that Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher would be allowed to retire with his trident pin, retaining his status as a SEAL.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his handling of a controversial war crimes case.
Esper told The Washington Post in a statement Sunday that he was „deeply troubled“ by reports that Spencer had reached out to White House officials promising that an accused Navy SEAL would be allowed to retire as a SEAL despite his conviction for posing with the corpse of a slain enemy combatant.
Background: The Bahrain maritime security meeting is a follow-up to the U.S.-led anti-Iran conference held in Warsaw in February. Around 60 countries attended that conference and have participated in ongoing meetings since.
The state of play: According to the State Department, the Bahrain meeting on Oct. 21-22 will focus on maintaining maritime and aviation security in the Middle East and promote steps to interdict and prevent shipments of illicit weapons of mass destruction.
„China has been closely following the complex and sensitive situation in the Gulf region,“ Geng added. „Safeguarding peace and stability in the region is in the shared interests of the international community. China welcomes all proposals and diplomatic efforts conducive to deescalating the situation in the Gulf region. We would also like to stay in communication with all relevant parties.“
Russia offers to establish an organization with the participation of Russia, the US, EU states and other countries in order to resolve the issues in the Persian Gulf, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed on Thursday during the plenary session of the Valdai Discussion Club.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said its commander, Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, visited Riyadh to discuss Iran with his Saudi counterpart, Vice Admiral Fahad al Ghofaily, over the weekend.
While Saudi Arabia wanted to avoid war and escalation, Iran would be held accountable for the drone and missile strikes, Adel al-Jubeir told the BBC.
A US assessment claiming Iran was behind the attacks was backed up by the UK, France and Germany this week.
NEW YORK — The leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom on Monday blamed Iran for an attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on oil facilities on Saudi territory on September 14th, 2019 in Abqaiq and Khurais, and we reaffirm in this context our full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its population,” French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a joint statement after meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“The time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery,” the three countries added
“It is clear for us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack,” the leaders of the three European powers said. “There is no other explanation.”
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – The United States wants to build a coalition of European and Arab partners to deter Iran after an attack on Saudi Arabia that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described on Wednesday as „an act of war“ against the world’s top oil exporter.
Diplomats say this led the US, which currently has no troops there, to propose that maximum number for the mission be reduced from 15,000 to 9,000.
The US mission to the UN would not confirm that number after the council voted 15-0 to extend the peacekeeping role, with no reduction to the maximum.
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Yokohama, Japan, sought the support of the Asian government in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as illegal fishing in that region.
A pilot project will take place targeting piracy in the Gulf of Guinea area in Africa, EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini said after the talks in Helsinki Thursday.
The meeting will start on Thursday 29 August with a discussion held jointly with the EU defence ministers. Countering hybrid and cyber threats is one of the priorities of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.
German military experts have presented their first concrete plans for an EU naval operation in the Persian Gulf. According to the draft of two well connected government advisors and a Bundeswehr professor, warships should be cruising at the two entrances to the Strait of Hormuz. Supplementary warships should escort oil tankers through the strait with armed troops on board to ward off possible attacks – depending on the disposition to escalate.
The confirmation came after Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, chief of CENTCOM, and other top U.S. commanders met with Bahrain’s king in the capital, Manama. Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country would deploy a maritime surveillance aircraft to the region by the end of the year, an frigate in January for six months and military personnel to the International Maritime Security Construct headquarters in Bahrain.
Dubbed “Nobel Rose,” the drill simulated various scenarios where troops had to take over a hijacked ship vessel and extracting troops from enemy territory.
The exercise included ten navies, mainly from Nato. In addition to Israeli missile-boats, there were ships from the United States, Greece and France. Britain’s Royal Navy — along with representatives of Canada, Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Chile — was involved at a headquarters level, with observers and experts taking part in the planning of missions.
The German government would launch the idea at one of the informal European meetings in Helsinki at the end of August.
After intense negotiations with Iranian authorities, CBS News was given rare access to Iranian-controlled waters in the Strait — one of the most volatile transit routes for the world’s oil supply.
About 14 tankers carry crude through the Strait every single day; a combined cargo value of $1.3 billion. It’s a lot of money, and there’s a lot of vested interest in ensuring the flow of tankers continues unimpeded.
It is not yet clear whether Israel will send naval vessels to take part in the US-led mission – dubbed “Operation Sentinel” – or whether it will assist by providing intelligence, as suggested by a report from Israel’s public broadcaster Kan last month.
Katz told a ministers‘ meeting that the two reached „substantial agreements,“ adding that he was working toward „transparent normalization and signed agreements“ with Gulf states. He added: „We do not have a conflict with them.“
“Any and every country that has an interest in freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce needs to really consider (being) involved in this type of monitoring of the strait,” he told reporters Tuesday, while en route to Tokyo for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.
“If there happens to be a very unsafe situation we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels,” Ni told Reuters, while the Chinese Embassy in the United Arab Emirates said later in a text message to Reuters that China was studying the U.S. proposal on escorting commercial ships in the Gulf.
The move was suggested after a summit on Thursday between military chiefs from the US, UK, Europe and the UAE in Florida, where US admirals failed to persuade Britain to join its Sentinel operation.
On July 23, the Russian Foreign Ministry introduced the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf. It stipulates creating an initiative group to organize an international conference on security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf, which will later lead to creating a security and cooperation organization in the region.
Chinese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Ni Jian informed Reuters of his country’s positions on regional maritime security in Abu Dhabi on Aug. 6, 2019. China’s embassy in the country subsequently provided additional details to the wire service via text message.
“The motto of this carrier is peace through strength,” Rear Adm. Karl Thomas told journalists.
Asked what message the carrier’s presence was sending amid new tensions with China, Thomas replied that U.S. military presence helps provide security and stability that foster diplomatic talks between quarreling China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
TASS reported that Khanzadi visited Russia in late July. While the location of the exercises has not been confirmed, Iran said activity could be conducted in the Strait of Hormuz as well as the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
Dominic Raab, the new foreign secretary, said the UK had to respond to the “increased threat” now. He added: “Our aim is to build the broadest international support to uphold freedom of navigation in the region, as protected under international law.”
„So we continue to follow the situation very closely. We exchange intelligence, information about the situation,“ he said and noted that NATO Defense Ministers in Brussels discussed the American imitative in June where touched on the possibility of NATO members contributing assets but not as part of a NATO mission.
On her part, Kramp-Karrenbauer said the situation in Iran and in Hormuz is very sensitive.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said Wednesday that Germany „will not take part in the sea mission presented and planned by the United States,“ which has sought to develop a „maritime security initiative“ to counter Iran in the world’s top oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz. The top diplomat affirmed that „there is no military solution“ to the ongoing crisis that has seen unrest involving competing commercial and military interests in the strategic region.
The UK’s legal right to seize either ships or goods in transit through the Strait of Gibraltar is highly debatable. It is Iran’s oil; and even if it is going to Syria as the UK claims, Syria is not under UN sanctions, the only legal international sanctions that count.
The European External Action Service, the EU body responsible for its foreign policy, was deafening in its silence on the UK action, supposedly taken to enforce EU sanctions. Even Carl Bildt, the co-chairman of the European Council on Foreign Relations, was constrained to tweet, “One refers to EU sanctions against Syria, but Iran is not a member of EU. And EU as a principle doesn’t impose its sanctions on others. That’s what the US does.”
„Practical work on launching the process of creating a security system in the Persian Gulf may be started by holding bilateral and multilateral consultations between interested parties, including countries both within the region and outside of it, UN Security Council, LAS [League of Arab States], OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation], GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council],“ the document added.
The UK has invited military representatives of the US, France and other European countries to a meeting in Bahrain on Wednesday in an attempt to create an international mission to safeguard shipping through the strait of Hormuz.
Britain hopes it can act as bridge between the US – which has the largest military presence of a western nation in the region – and countries such as Germany, which is reluctant to getting involved in any mission led by Washington.
„We have officially asked Germany to assist, together with France and the U.K., to maintain security of the Strait of Hormuz and counter Iranian aggression,“ a U.S. official was quoted as saying by the German press agency DPA.
„Freedom of navigation is crucial for the global trading system and world economy, and we will do all we can to defend it.
„The Department for Transport has therefore updated its advice to confirm that the Royal Navy has been tasked to accompany British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz, either individually or in groups, should sufficient notice be given of their passage.”
Experts confirm that the attack was a well-planned operation. Pipes are at a depth of dozens meters underwater. Such a difficult mining mission can be completed only by trained and well-equipped specs. This fact excludes the operating of the irregular militants.
(24.06.2019) The network carries crude oil from the coast to tankers at the port of Banias. The port city houses one of Syria’s two refineries. The other is located in Homs, in central Syria.
Last month U.S.-led forces blew up three oil tankers in Syria in the latest push against the Syrian government which is fighting rebel groups in their last remaining stronghold in Syria, in Idlib.
Syria is heavily dependent on crude oil imports through the Mediterranean, with a lot of the oil coming from Iran.
Lorenzana clarified that China would not need permission if it is for commercial shipping as they are allowed to do so by virtue of the principle of innocent passage.
Beijing still needs to inform Manila if their warships will pass through Philippine waters, the secretary said.
The U.S. and China are already embroiled in a tense trade war as Taiwan and other Pacific allies grow concerned about China’s growing military threat.
Earlier this month, the U.S. tentatively approved the sale of $2.2 billion in arms to Taiwan – a proposal that had prompted China to threaten sanctions against the U.S.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt discussed the incident with Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas.
Over 2,000 forces and 27 ships are taking part in exercise Breeze 2019 in the Black Sea. The Bulgarian-led maritime exercise, which began on 12 July, involves forces from 12 NATO Allies – Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
„We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) by mistake!,“ Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on Twitter.
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted military spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekari as saying that „all Iranian drones that are in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one which the U.S. president mentioned, after carrying out scheduled identification and control missions, have returned to their bases.“
A U.S. naval ship downed an Iranian drone that flew too close and ignored multiple calls to turn away, President Trump said Thursday, as tensions between the United States and Iran appeared to be rising once again in the Persian Gulf region.
Speaking at the White House, Trump said the drone came within 1,000 yards of the USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz before the crew “took defensive action” and “immediately destroyed” it.
HMS Duncan is currently in the Mediterranean and is expected to join HMS Montrose in the region next week.
Jeremy Hunt has said the Royal Navy has been “run down too much” as he cited a skirmish between Britain and Iran in the Persian Gulf as proof that more warships are needed.
The Foreign Secretary said the “deeply troubling” events in the Middle East showed that the Navy must be “expanded to meet the threats we face”.
Early on Thursday, two American officials, who were speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, claimed that five boats believed to belong to the IRGC had approached the tanker British Heritage at the northern entrance of the Strait of Hormuz and ordered it to stop.
Three Iranian ships unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, the UK government has confirmed.
Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.
„The Grace 1 was detained last week in Gibraltar when it freely navigated into British Gibraltar territorial waters to a point two miles off the Eastside of Gibraltar, having previously exited the international waters of the Straits of Gibraltar, on a pre-arranged call for provisions and spare parts,“ the Gibraltar Government spokesman said.
The ship was „well inside BGTW“ when it was boarded and remains detained in that area, the spokesman added.
To illustrate that point, the Gibraltar Government issued a screen grab from the Port of Gibraltar’s vessel traffic monitoring system taken on the night of detention.
Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, has said the seizure was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.
„We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab,“ said Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Washington has a new tactic in its ongoing campaign against Tehran: outsource the naval blockade of Iran and have allies seize oil tankers in international waterways – all in the name of “freedom of navigation,” of course.
Syrian Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources stated on June, 23 the explosion of 5 pipelines nearby Baniyas city of Tartus province. (…)
Experts confirm that the attack was a well-planned operation. Pipes are at a depth of dozens meters underwater. Such a difficult mining mission can be completed only by trained and well-equipped specs. This fact excludes the operating of the irregular militants.
„In response to a request from the US Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,“ acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.
In the hours before the attack on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.
The missile missed the drone and fell into the water, the official said.
„We received reports that something flew towards the ship,“ Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, said at a press conference Friday. „I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,“ he said, adding that a projectile landed above the waterline. (…)
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The UK Royal Navy-linked UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) safety group earlier issued a warning, urging „extreme caution“ in the area.