Report

Iran Intercepts Cargo Ship in Persian Gulf

The naval component of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a cargo ship on Tuesday, sparking a new international incident in the Persian Gulf. Iranian ships intercepted the Maersk Tigris, firing across its bow and then escorting it toward the port at Bandar Abbas. At the time, the ship was traveling between Saudi Arabia and the United ...

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The naval component of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a cargo ship on Tuesday, sparking a new international incident in the Persian Gulf. Iranian ships intercepted the Maersk Tigris, firing across its bow and then escorting it toward the port at Bandar Abbas. At the time, the ship was traveling between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The ship issued a distress call, at which point the U.S. Navy sent a destroyer to monitor the situation, but it is unlikely to intervene.

The reason for the action is in dispute. Iranian reports cite an official with the Iran Ports and Maritime Organisation, who said the ship was detained on account of outstanding debts. Some analysts have speculated that the ship was seized as a reprisal against Saudi Arabia for halting Iranian flights to Yemen, or that it was a challenge to the United States after President Obama said last week that the U.S. Navy would ensure “freedom of navigation” in the Gulf. An Iranian convoy of cargo and naval ships returned to Iran last week before crossing paths with a U.S. aircraft carrier near Yemen. The incident is complicated by the tangled web of national affiliations involved: The Tigris is flagged by the Marshall Islands (which is under the protection of the United States), operated by a German company, and carrying cargo for a Danish company.

Saudi Arabia Names New Crown Prince

King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced a major restructuring of the line of succession, naming Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as the new crown prince. At 55, bin Nayef is the first crown prince from the next generation of Saudi royals. He is currently the country’s interior minister and top counterterrorism official, a capacity in which he was nearly assassinated by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2009. King Salman also named his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, currently acting as defense minister, as deputy crown prince. The announcement comes as Saudi officials said that they have arrested 93 suspected members of the Islamic State in recent months. Saudi officials said the arrests disrupted several attacks in the kingdom, including a plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Riyadh.

Headlines

  • Saudi jets bombed the runway of the Sanaa airport in Yemen to prevent an Iranian flight from landing; the strike will complicate efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the crisis-stricken country.

 

  • The Assad regime has accused Turkey of directly assisting the newly-formed Army of Conquest rebel coalition in its advances in Idlib Province, including providing “logistical and fire support from the Turkish army.”

 

  • Louay Hussein, the head of an opposition political party in Syria, has fled to Spain while on bail and facing trial for “weakening national sentiment” and “weakening the morale of the nation.”

 

  • The United States designated three members of Hezbollah as terrorists; two of the men are believed to have been responsible for bombing a bus in Bulgaria in 2012.

 

  • The European Union’s top diplomat said yesterday that European efforts to stem the flow of illegal migration in the Mediterranean should not be perceived as an attack on the Libyan people or government.

-J. Dana Stuster

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

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