UN notified of ships targeted in UAE waters

A cargo ship is seen moored at the port of Fujairah in the Gulf Emirate on May 13, 2019. (AFP / KARIM SAHIB)
Updated 17 May 2019
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UN notified of ships targeted in UAE waters

  • Details around the alleged acts of sabotage off the coast of the UAE’s port of Fujairah remain unclear

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Norway have notified the United Nations about the sabotage attack that targeted four commercial ships in the territorial waters of the UAE on May 12.
In a written statement, the trio jointly said the attack “posed a threat to the safety and security” of international shipping and maritime navigation. It said no one was injured, but the hulls of at least three of the four ships were damaged.
Two of the vessels were Saudi-owned, one was Norwegian and the fourth was an Emirati oil tanker.
Details around the alleged acts of sabotage off the coast of the UAE’s port of Fujairah remain unclear. The joint statement does not say who they suspect was responsible. It said the three countries, working with international partners, are investigating.
While Gulf officials have declined to say who they suspected was responsible, the attack demonstrated the raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies as tensions are increasing between the US and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
Earlier, the US has warned sailors of the potential for attacks on commercial sea traffic, and regional allies of the United Arab Emirates condemned the sabotage as the tankers were off the coast of the UAE port city of Fujairah.
A US official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation, agreed to reveal the findings only if not quoted by name. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast and operates from a base in Fujairah, has repeatedly declined to comment.
The US already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran.


Sudan's top opposition rejects strike call in protest rift

Updated 26 May 2019
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Sudan's top opposition rejects strike call in protest rift

KHARTOUM: Sudan's main opposition group and supporter of the protest movement on Sunday rejected its call to stage a two-day general strike, in the first sign of a rift within the movement negotiating the launch of civilian rule.
Talks between leaders of the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and army generals who seized power after ousting autocrat Omar Al-Bashir last month are deadlocked over who should lead a new governing body - a civilian or soldier.
In a bid to step up pressure on the generals, the protest movement has called for a general strike starting Tuesday, but the National Umma Party, a key backer of the movement, rejected the measure.
"We reject the general strike announced by some opposition groups" in the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the National Umma Party said in a statement.
"A general strike is a weapon that should be used after it is agreed upon by everybody," Umma said.
"We have to avoid such escalated measures that are not fully agreed."
The National Umma Party led by former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi said any such decision should be taken by a council of leaders of the protest movement.
Such a council was still not in place and "will be composed in a meeting on Monday", it said.
It was Mahdi's elected government that Bashir, who himself was deposed on April 11, toppled in a coup in 1989.
In a recent interview with AFP, Mahdi warned protesters not to "provoke" the army's rulers as they had been instrumental in ousting Bashir.