DebkeFile & Reuters – 2008-12-06 10:20:49
Iran Deploys 60-ship Armada in War Readiness Maneuver
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
(December 4, 20098) — The Iranian navy and air force began a six-day maneuver Wednesday, Dec. 3, which Tehran radio said would cover an area of 50,000 square miles of the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has threatened to block the narrow strait if attacked. Admiral Qasem Rostamabadi said its aim is to “increase the level of readiness of Iran’s naval forces and test domestically-made naval weaponry.”
Air strikes against “which sank big enemy vessels” were said to be part of the war game, a clear reference to American air carriers, three of which are now present in waters opposite Iran. Iranian Navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari boasted Wednesday: “Iran has pushed back the frontiers of naval capabilities to become the decisive maritime force in the region.”
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report Iran’s leaders are utterly convinced that a US and/or Israeli attack will be launched against its nuclear installations and Revolutionary Guards bases before Barak Obama’s January 21 inauguration as US president.
US Naval-air Buildup Opposite India, Pakistan, Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
(December 1, 2008) — Three US aircraft carriers with strike groups, task forces and nuclear submarines have piled up in the waters of the Arabian Sea opposite the shores of India, Pakistan and Iran, and in the Persian Gulf.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the US began massing this formidable array of floating firepower at the outset of the Islamist terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai last Wednesday, Nov. 26.
Tehran responded typically with a threat of retaliation should the Americans decide to use the Mumbai terrorist attack to hit Iran.
It is more likely, according to our military sources, that the Americans are on the ready in case the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the New Delhi’s charge of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai atrocity explodes into an armed clash on their border.
Our Iranian sources note that the Islamic republic’s rulers remember that after al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the Americans did not only invade Afghanistan, but also Iraq and they fear a similar sideswipe.
Israeli Navy Redirects Libyan Ship Bound for Blockaded Gaza Strip with 3,000 Tons Humanitarian Aid
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
(December 1, 2008) — The Israeli navy turned back a Libyan ship on Sunday on its way to deliver humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.
They said the ship, Al-Marwa, sailed instead to a port in neighboring Egypt. It had departed from Libya last Monday, carrying 3,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other aid. Libya has complained to the UN Security Council.
Al Marwa, the First of Several Arab Ship to Break the Gaza Siege
Saed Bannoura / IMEMC News
(November 30, 2008) — Palestinian Legislator, head of the Popular committee Against the Siege, Jamal El Khodary, stated on Sunday that the Lybian ship “Al Marwa” will reach the Gaza port on Monday, and added that this ship is one of several Arab ships that will challenge the Israeli siege and deliver humanitarian supplies to the residents of the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, El Khodary phoned the Lybian Health Minister, Dr. Mohammad Rashed, and thanked him, the Lybian resident and the Lybian people for their efforts to break the Israeli siege.
The independent legislator added that this ship is the first Arab ship challenging the siege, but will be followed by additional ships that would set sail in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
He added that the the Popular Committee Against the Siege will continue the preparations for the arrival of A Marwa on Monday in order to deliver the aid and medicine to the residents of the coastal region.
The Lybian Health Minister said that the government and the people of Libya are determined to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and added that Lybian hospitals are open for the Palestinian patients at any given time.
Dr. Rashed saluted the Palestinian people and their steadfastness in the Gaza Strip while Israel continues its siege and military offensives against them.
The Al Marwa ship sailed to Gaza three days ago carrying three-thousands tons of humanitarian and medical aid.
Israeli Navy Blocks Libyan Ship’s Gaza Mission
GAZA, (December 1, 2008) — A Libyan ship trying to deliver aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Monday turned back in the face of an Israeli naval blockade, Palestinian officials said.
The ship, Al-Marwa, sailed instead to a port in neighbouring Egypt. It left Libya last Monday, carrying 3,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other aid, Palestinian and Libyan officials said.
Imposed to generate political pressure on Islamist Hamas, the blockade has been stepped up in recent weeks amid a surge in border clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.
Israel, which has in the past allowed ships carrying humanitarian goods to dock in Gaza to avoid a public confrontation, said Al-Marwa had turned back without incident.
“They understood that the navy was there and decided to turn around,” said Andy David, a Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. “We have a very clear policy (on the blockade) which is constantly publicised.”
Palestinian officials said the vessel had left Gaza’s shores and its crew was unharmed.
The Anti-Siege Committee, a Palestinian group that lobbies with Hamas backing against the embargo, accused Israel of having also blocked Al-Marwa’s communications broadcasts to Gaza. The ship was now docked in Egypt’s El-Arish port, the group said.
“We urge all sides to pursue this intifada (uprising) of ships,” said Anti-Siege Committee spokesman Ala al-Batta. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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