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Old 06-14-2010, 11:11 AM
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Exclamation Iranian aid ships head for Gaza

Iranian aid ships head for Gaza

14 Jun 2010 0923 GMT

Source: Reuters

* First ship left Iran Sunday, another leaves this week

* Iran says will continue until Gaza blockade lifted

* 100,000 Iranians volunteer to crew ships - report

TEHRAN, June 14 (Reuters) - Iran is sending aid ships to blockaded Gaza, state radio said on Monday -- a move likely to be considered provocative by Israel which accuses Tehran of arming the Palestinian enclave's Islamist rulers, Hamas.

One ship left port on Sunday and another will depart by Friday, loaded with food, construction material and toys, the report said. The boats would be part of international efforts to break Israel's isolation of the Gaza Strip.

"Until the end of the Gaza blockade, Iran will continue to ship aid," said an official at Iran's Society for the Defence of the Palestinian Nation.

While Israel has long suspected Iran, which rejects the Jewish state's right to exist, of supplying weapons to Hamas, Tehran says it only provides moral support to the group.

Israeli troops two weeks ago boarded a flotilla of Turkish aid ships heading to Gaza on May 31 and killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, most of them Turks.

Public opinion in Muslim countries was outraged by the killings. An official of the Iranian Red Crescent Society's youth organisation said some 100,000 Iranians had volunteered as potential crew for aid ships, Iran daily reported.

A senior Iranian official said earlier Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were ready to provide a military escort to aid ships heading to Gaza if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei so commands. [ID:nLDE65509B]

But the Guards' deputy head, Hossein Salami, said there were no plans to do so. "Such a thing is not on our agenda," he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Monday.

Any such military mobilisation would risk a major confrontation with Israel,
which fears Iran's nuclear enrichment programme is aimed at developing atomic bombs.

The Jewish state regards Iran's nuclear ambitions as a mortal threat. Iran says its nuclear programme is meant solely to yield electricity or isotopes for medicine and agriculture.

(Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Old 06-26-2010, 11:05 AM
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Iran cancels plan to send ship to Gaza
Jun 26 11:42 AM US/Eastern

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran will not be sending a blockade-busting ship to Gaza in defiance of Israeli warnings, an Iranian lawmaker said Saturday, citing Israeli "restrictions."

Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that instead of sending a ship, an Iranian delegation of lawmakers would travel to Lebanon and sail on one of the aid ships expected to head to Gaza from there.

The Iranian ship called "Infants of Gaza" had been expected to sail Sunday for Gaza carrying 1,100 tons of relief supplies and 10 pro-Palestinian activists but plans were canceled "due to restrictions imposed by the occupying Zionist regime," Bighash said.

Iran made the announcement Tuesday prompting Israel to warn its archenemy to drop the plan.

Israel considers Iran a threat because of its suspect nuclear program, its long-range missiles and its support for Lebanese and Gaza militants.
Israeli security officials said the prospect of an Iranian boat headed for Gaza had Israel deeply worried, and that naval commandos were training for the possibility of taking on a vessel with a suicide bomber on board.

After an international outcry over the killing of nine Turkish activists in a May 31 raid on another aid ship, Israel eased its land blockade of Gaza but insisted on maintaining a naval blockade it says is necessary to keep weapons shipments out of the hands of Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas overran the Palestinian territory in June 2007.
In Lebanon, organizers of the ship, "Julia," said they plan to sail in the next few days but said they had nothing to with Iran. A second ship will only be transporting women, while a third ship will include parliamentarians from the Middle East and Europe. It is not clear when that ship will sail.

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Old 07-03-2010, 05:46 PM
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Flotilla Watch

posted at 3:35 pm on July 3, 2010 by J.E. Dyer

Did you know the US asked Lebanon, on 23 June, not to allow the planned Lebanese flotilla to head for Gaza? Probably not, unless you read foreign media or The Washington Times. The topic wasn’t briefed at the State Department daily briefing on 23, 24, or 25 June. Or on 22 June, for that matter. The daily briefings on both 22 and 23 June discussed the inquiry into the 31 May flotilla incident, as well as the status of the Gaza blockade, but no mention was made of the State Department’s communication urging Lebanon not to send the planned flotilla. CBS obediently left that information out of its 23 June summary update on the matter, the same day TWT reported it.

It’s certainly possible the CBS staff didn’t know about the US request, of course, but that’s another topic. Meanwhile, the Lebanese flotilla has reportedly joined the Iranian flotilla in standing down for the time being.

The Israelis had already affirmed to the UN that they would stop the flotilla, and warned Lebanon that they would hold her government responsible for an incident provoked by a Lebanese-sponsored flotilla. The US communication came on top of that warning from Israel. The flotilla was supposed to depart around the 25th or 26th, but with the coincident announcement that Iran’s flotilla would be cancelled, Lebanon seems to have thought better of letting the Levantine flotilla proceed. Haaretz had reported as early as 20 June, right after the Israelis issued their warning, that Beirut was holding up the flotilla over its failure to secure bureaucratic permissions. An American activist who had gone to join the Lebanese flotilla reported two days ago that it looked very unlikely the planned flotilla would leave at all.

The subtitle of his report is “Controlling Civil Disobedience.” That’s worth reflecting on briefly, as civil disobedience is something that always occurs at the sufferance of the authorities. Of course it’s possible to shut down these flotillas – as long as they maintain their cover of being acts of civil disobedience. The Lebanese flotilla had just enough of that cover to knuckle under when it became clear the combined Lebanese, Israeli, and US authorities opposed it.

We should not forget, however, that what we’re talking about here is not Henry D. Thoreau leading a flotilla to Walden Pond. One of the flotilla’s chief sponsors was Syrian businessman Yassir Qashlaq, who had this to say about the flotilla’s purpose and the fate of Israel’s Jews. The clip is short; don’t skip it.

One of the two ships scheduled to participate in the Lebanese flotilla was a French ship originally named Julia, whose name was changed to Nagi al-Ali for the flotilla outing. Nagi al-Ali waited in Tripoli to pick up its passengers (mostly European activists and journalists); not surprising, but an additional sign that Libya – which hosted a hysterically anti-Israel Arab League conference in March – is back on Qadhafi’s old path of facilitating anti-Israel actions. Actually committing them is probably not far behind.

The third prong of the flotilla assault was to be from Turkey – and that effort is alive and well. That’s bad news, because Turkey remains the most formidable potential flotilla-wielding foe. The next Turkish flotilla will reportedly head for Gaza in late July. Although we are hearing little about it at the moment, there is good reason to credit the Turkish planners with serious intentions: their main foreign sponsor is still fully engaged, and is even holding an international conference, which will start 11 July, on breaking the Gaza blockade. That sponsor is the Perdana Global Peace Organization (PGPO), headed by former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammed.

It’s worth visiting PGPO’s website just to take in its overwhelming obsession with the flotilla campaign. The homepage is basically “all flotilla, all the time,” and has been since the first flotilla began nearing Gaza in late May. PGPO, which is based in Malaysia, sponsored three of the ships in the last flotilla, including M/V Rachel Corrie. And as I outlined here, Mahathir Mohammed and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, received special thanks from Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, at an “al-Qods” (Jerusalem) conference convened in Beirut in January. Qaradawi is the founder of the Union of Good, from which Turkey’s IHH organization – which has ties to Hamas and has been designated a terrorist group – receives its funding. (See here for Qaradawi on killing Jews, bringing down America, and other topics; h/t Jihad Watch.)
(Of note, PGPO is also the organization of which Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Ground Zero mosque imam who founded the Cordoba Initiative, is a prominent founder. This is not a superficial or accidental connection; Rauf’s father, an Egyptian Islamic scholar from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, founded the Islamic University of Malaysia and had a long association with Mahathir Mohammed. When Mahathir was hospitalized and required surgery in 2007, after the elder Rauf had passed away, the younger Rauf arrived from New York to lead interfaith prayers for him in Kuala Lumpur.)

PGPO’s Gaza blockade conference starts on 11 July. It will presumably be after the conference that the next IHH flotilla sets out from Turkey. As of now, the Lebanese and Iranian flotillas are in abeyance – a testament to the good it does to issue warnings (or at least look like you are doing so).

Turkey’s susceptibility to warnings will be contingent on the attitude with which we issue them, if we do; and the other flotillas may not remain stood down without continuing encouragement. Meanwhile, Turkish flotilla advocates protested under this sign in June. The Turkish phrase means, roughly, “health to your hands,” and is an expression of thanks.
H/t via Jihad Watch

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