Gibraltar Finally Releases Iranian Oil Tanker Held Since July

The Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1, recently renamed ‘Adrian Darya 1,’ finally departed from Gibraltar on Sunday night. The tanker is heading to a destination that is yet to be revealed, the information has been confirmed by shipping data and the local media. This is comes several hours after the British territory rejected a request from the United States to stop the ship from leaving.

UN Rapporteur: Freedom of Expression in Iran is More Restricted

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran says freedom of expression in Iran has been curtailed. In his second report in six months, he expressed concern about the impact of sanctions on Iran’s “food and drug safety.” Javid Rahman submitted his second report to the UN General Assembly on Friday and it emphasized that in the past year freedom of expression in Iran has been curtailed and human rights abuses have continued.

Iran and Other Islamic Countries Weigh In on Kashmir Crisis

Iran and Turkey have criticized India’s policy of ending the autonomy of the two states, Jammu and Kashmir. Many Muslim countries, however, have been more cautious about recent developments in Kashmir. Mohammad Hussein Bagheri, Iranian Armed Forces chief of staff, expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir and said in a telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart that a military approach to the Kashmir crisis could increase complexity throughout the region. Bagheri has called on the Indian government to respect the rights of Muslim residents of the two states.

Iran Increased Pressure – John Bolton’s Main Goals on His Trip to London

US National Security Adviser John Bolton has traveled to meet with UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s top officials to “keep London in line with pressure on Iran and secure shipping in the Gulf.” Iran and the US-UK joint approach to the country are expected to be among the most important issues of Bolton’s meetings and talks with British officials.

Iran’s Attorney General Opposes the Presence of Women in Football Stadiums

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the Attorney General of Iran Islamic Republic, once again opposed the presence of women in football stadiums, raising the question of what FIFA is doing. Iran’s AG has said in his remarks, “FIFA has no sympathy for Iranian women, and it’s resistance on allowing them to enter arenas and watch male footballers competing against each other, is a reflection of [the] enemy’s infiltration in Iran.”

Iran Seizes Third Foreign Tanker as Tensions Mount

After a relatively quiet couple of weeks, Iran upped the ante again this weekend.  State media reported that the Revolutionary Guard seized an Iraqi oil tanker, which it accused of smuggling fuel.  It is the third such vessel captured since July 13.  The move comes as tensions continue to escalate between the quarantined Islamic Republic and the western powers, particularly the United States.  A spokesman for the U.S. Navy, however, said they had no information to confirm the seizure.

Huawei Accused of Sanction-Busting in North Korea, Spying in Czech Republic in Explosive Reports

Monday was another bad day for Chinese tech giant Huawei.  The Washington Post dropped a major bombshell on the company regarding alleged (highly-illegal) dealings in North Korea, and Czech Radio added another involving activities in their own country.  The news adds fresh and serious doubts about the company’s potential western footprint, and bolster’s Washington’s case that the giant is a threat to American national security and users’ privacy.  President Trump met tech CEOs in the White House Monday, partially to discuss what to do about it.

United States Calls for Coalition From Its Partners for a Military Mission in the Persian Gulf

The US requested collaboration to protect the transit of oil tankers after the incident with the British ship. After recent incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, the White House asked its international partners to collaborate in a joint military mission, called Operation Sentinel, to protect the transit of commercial tankers through the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon aims to add its partners in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in this naval effort.

London Urges Tehran to “Free” British Oil Tanker

The United Kingdom yesterday urged Iran to ease tensions in the Gulf by releasing the British oil tanker boarded in the Strait of Hormuz, an act deemed “unacceptable” by London and raising further escalation fears. British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt announced that the executive would inform Parliament on Monday about “further measures” that the United Kingdom intends to take, but the “priority” remains to “find a way to defuse the situation.” But “we also need to see a process” of appeasement on the Iranian side, he said. “We need this ship to be released.”

US Forces Deployed in Saudi Arabia Amid Growing Tension With Iran

US forces are deployed in Saudi Arabia to defend US interests in the face of “serious emerging threats,” the Pentagon said. The move comes amid growing tension with Iran over the safety of shipping lines in the Gulf. Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has agreed to “host US forces to enhance security and stability in the region,” according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Strait Trippin’: Iran Seizes Tanker, US Downs Drone

A month ago, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down an unmanned American drone in the Strait of Hormuz.  Later that week, President Trump called off a retaliatory military attack on Iran at the last minute.  He explained the next day that he did not believe the loss of Iranian lives to be proportionate to the loss of a machine.  On Thursday, the United States appeared to level the score.  US Marines jammed an unmanned Iranian drone in the Strait, downing the aircraft and destroying it.  The incident reignited tensions between the two countries, which seem to be stumbling toward war.

Iran Refuses to Negotiate Its Ballistic Missile Program

The Iranian mission to the United Nations, Ali Reza Mir Yusuf, said Tehran’s ballistic missile program is not negotiable. His remarks came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke of the Iranians’ readiness to discuss their missile program.

US President Donald Trump also said progress has been made in an effort to reduce tensions with Iran. Relations between the two countries deteriorated dramatically after Trump withdrew last year from the nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. In response, Iran began to breach some of the terms of the agreement.

As U.S.-Iran Tensions Mount, Europe Tries to Save the Deal

Amid ongoing saber rattling between the United States and Iran, two European envoys have been dispatched to attempt to save the Iran Nuclear Deal.  Emmanuel Bonne, representing French President Emmanuel Macron, was in Tehran this week, and British Foreign Minister (and Prime Ministerial candidate) Jeremy Hunt is headed for Brussels.  Meanwhile, Iran says it’s ready to talk, conditionally.  It seems unlikely the United States will be as willing to listen.

President Rouhani: Iran Will Negotiate If US Lifts Sanctions

President Hassan Rohani is ready for negotiations with the United States in order to stop efforts to punish his country economically. Amid tensions between Washington and Tehran, Germany, France and the United Kingdom called for responsible action. Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Sunday his country is ready to resume talks with the United States if Washington removes heavy economic sanctions against the country and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Britain Offers to Release Iranian Oil Tanker – Deescalating Tensions

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said an Iranian oil tanker being held by the British Royal Navy in the Straits of Gibraltar could be released if the United Kingdom will be guaranteed by Iran that the oil tanker would not go to Syria to deliver its cargo. The minister added that he had a “constructive” telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who informed him of Tehran’s desire to resolve the issue, and not to escalate the situation.

House Votes to Restrain Presidential War Powers; Trump Threatens Veto

On Friday, in “the most important foreign policy vote in the United States Congress,” the Democrat-controlled House voted to reauthorize the often-contentious National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)— and tied President Trump’s war-making hands in doing so.  Twenty Republicans voted with the majority on a bipartisan amendment to require the president to get congressional approval before attacking Iran.  The bill now heads to the Senate, where it faces long odds, and the threat of a presidential veto.

Britain Blamed Iran for Trying to Seize Its Oil Tanker in Persian Gulf

Iranian ships tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the UK government said. This happened a week after British marines detained an Iranian tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar.

As stated by the British government, the incident occurred on Wednesday into the Strait of Hormuz: three Iranian boats tried to prevent the passage of British Heritage a commercial vessel but were forced to retreat when the HMS Montrose tanker escorting crew demanded they withdraw.

Iran Announces Central Infringement of Nuclear Agreement – Europe Worried

The nuclear deal with Iran is facing another serious setback. The government in Tehran wants to ramp up uranium enrichment.

France’s head of state Emmanuel Macron warned his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in a telephone conversation about the “risk of weakening” the international nuclear agreement. Macron had expressed deep concern in the conversation, pointing out that such weakening of the agreement would have consequences, the Presidential Office in Paris said. What consequences this could be, was not explained.

Will a Cease Fire in Gaza Hold? Tensions Rising in the Middle East

After the disappointing two day Summit of Jared Kushner representing the U.S., the situation in the Middle East and in Israel continues to be on fire. The Palestinians from Gaza have continued to send fire balloons from their territory into southern Israel. More than a hundred of these balloons were recorded during the past week in an escalation of terror from the time of the Summit in Bahrain.

Senate Holds Marathon Vote, Rejects Congressional Approval for Iran War

Friday morning was an unusual one for observers of the United States Senate.  The longest vote in the chamber’s history, in which several of the deliberative body’s sacrosanct rules and traditions were bent, resulted in a somewhat foregone conclusion, and with it, another abdication of congressional responsibility.  An amendment requiring the president receive explicit congressional approval before attacking Iran got 50 votes after more than 10 hours of open-house voting.  It needed 60, and failed.

Jared Kushner Presents Peace Plan: Between Israel and Gulf States Against Iran

If a real estate developer pitches a $50 billion timeshare presentation at a seminar in Bahrain, and nobody shows up to take it seriously, is it really a plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  That’s the approximate weight given by most observers— those who bothered to observe— to the “deal of the century,” crafted by senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, who also happens to be President Trump’s son in law.  Kushner unveiled the economic portion of the plan at the “Peace and Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain on Tuesday.

Middle East Tensions – Did Lindsey Graham Admit that Israel Will Soon Attack Iran?

America is working to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  There is resistance on both sides to the peace plan initiated by Jared Kushner representing President Trump, his father-in-law.

The first phase of the peace treaty involves a $50 billion investment in all interests surrounding Israel including Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon.  The idea is to create first an environment for peace between these nations before reaching a political solution.  The agreement will attempt to connect Gaza with the West Bank.  Israel is concerned about its tourist trade located in the city of Eilat which will be cut off from the rest of Israel through this thoroughfare.  This thoroughfare could also be used by terrorists from Arab Gihad to infiltrate Israel.

Has Oil Bottomed? If Demand is So Low Due to China, Why isn’t Copper Showing Any of the Same Patterns?

If oil demand is down so much due to the China trade war and tariffs, how come the more economically sensitive materials, such as copper, have not felt the same economic downward price effects?

Today China has asked it’s refineries to hold off on placing new orders for crude oil imports in anticipation of lower prices once and if demand stalls further. The Chinese buyers have cut off purchases of U.S. crude oil as the trade dispute between Beijing and Washington continues.

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off! Trump Orders, Aborts Attack on Iran— But Why?

In case you missed it, we almost went to war on Thursday night.  That same day, Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, which was flying in or near the country.  President Trump confirmed earlier media reports Friday morning that he authorized a limited strike on Iran, but called it off at the last minute.  His action, and abrupt control-Z, raise more questions about the administration’s Iran policy than they do answers.

Trump / USA may Go it Alone— Without Congress Vote — on Iran Conflict

On Monday, in one of his last acts as acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan announced the United States would send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East.  They will join the roughly 1,500 American troops already there— plus an aircraft carrier strike group, Patriot missile batteries, and bombers— to counter what the Trump administration sees as a threat from Iran.  It is the latest development in a tit-for-tat escalation between the two countries, which some fear may lead to war.  And Congress— nominally, an important player in the use of military force— might not be involved.

Unrest Around the World – A Country by Country Look

Today following the world news can be seen in a world at unrest.  In these countries especially is apparent World Unrest:

Khazakhstan – The world’s largest land locked country and the ninth largest in the world with an area of 2,724,900 square kilometers. It is a democratic secular republic with a diverse heritage. After the elections resulting in the overwhelming victory of interim president Toqaev began wave of protests against the lack of fairness in the elections.

Toronto Wins NBA Championship; Middle East Conflicts Continue

The Toronto Raptors have officially become champions in the NBA after defeating the Golden State Warriors in a very close game.  Kevin Lowry scored 26 points leading their team to a victory.  Kevin Lowry was singled out for his opposition to the Toronto Raptors fans cheering the injury to Kevin Durant.  The injury to Klay Thompson in the fourth quarter was the final clincher in the defeat of Golden State.  Clay Thompson we see was the difference between the two squads. Golden State without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson already gave Toronto the edge eventually the championship.  The injury to Klay Thompson when he went up for the layup was for sure not intentional.  It was just an attempt to block his shot. The ballplayers showed proper sportsmanship during the game and afterwards.

Trump’s Trade Wars, Tariffs, Sanctions, Bans; What’s Next?

President Donald Trump (R) lifted his tariffs against Mexico and Canada, but is he scaling up on China. So what about cars, steel, aluminium, washing machines, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Huawei?

Trade Wars

Cars: Trump asked for and received a government study on car imports. He was particularly angered last November when General Motors announced that it was closing car assembly plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Trump has threatened to impose a 25% tariff on imported cars in retaliation for GM’s moves.

National Security – Israel Goes Again to Elections

Israel will be going to election again in September after failing to make a government with a majority. National security needs national unity and Israel failed to make a coalition government. The government was split after elections between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Ganz both received an equal amount of votes.

To make the government all on the side of Likud (the right side) Netanyahu needed the help of the other parties which had received mandates.  On the right there was a conflict between the religious ultra-orthodox right and the secular right. 

Apartheid – Secular and Religious

When the officials in Iran were interviewed recently they were asked: Why do you want to destroy Israel?  Iran continuously publically states there intention to destroy Israel and wipe Israel off the face of the map.  This is also the wish of Hamas and Jihad in the Gaza Strip.  This official in Iran answered to this question, “Israel is an apartheid state. We were also against the apartheid state in South Africa.

Apartheid began in South Africa in 1948 when the National Party was elected in office. The National Party government classified all South African people into three races and developed rights and limitations for each.

Reaching the Playoffs

The east and west conferences of the NBA have reached the playoffs.  The NBA finals will begin May 30.  In the meantime from the West conference will be decided who will reach the finals between Golden State and Portland. From the East conference the conference finals are between Milwaukee and Toronto.

There is glory, fame and money at stake.  Each team in both conferences has invested in their success. There is one winner in each conference and one winner in the NBA Finals.  Then will be chosen the MVP of the year.

Oil Becomes Black Gold Again

Protesters in Basra for First-Time Request Support from President Trump

According to Kitabat Electronic News Page:

Protests in Basra started again during the Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi visit; and turn it into a time bomb in his face.

Demonstrations came out again in the streets of “Basra” Iraqi (Friday night January 18th ) and increased the accessions of other demonstrators; in despite of the number of victims occurred during the recent protests two months ago, because of corruption and the deterioration of basic services and lack of jobs in the province, which is the richest in Iraq.

International Roundup: Bombs, Brexit, Beijing, Border Wall

USA China Truce Starts With Bomb Shells