Allies play hard to get on U.S. proposal to protect oil…

first_imgFailure to secure support for the maritime initiative would be a blow to efforts by the United States, and its Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to isolate Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Iran-backed forces in the Middle East. A second Gulf official said: “We’re not going to do anything like that, we are not going to do anything on our own.” Because of fears of confrontation, any involvement by Washington’s allies is likely be limited to naval personnel and equipment already in place – near the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf and the Bab al-Mandab strait in the Red Sea, two Gulf sources and a British security source said. But with Washington’s allies reluctant to commit new weaponry or fighting forces, a senior Pentagon official told Reuters on Thursday that the United States’ aim was not to set up a military coalition but to shine a “flashlight” in the region to deter attacks on commercial shipping. “There are enough resources in the region now for the job at hand. The Americans want an international stamp on this effort,” one of the Gulf sources said. “They (the United States) also don’t want to bear the financial burden.” Addressing such concerns or possible misunderstandings, Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the most senior policy officials at the Pentagon, told Reuters in an interview that the new initiative was “not about military confrontation.” “It’s just impossible. The Strait is already too crowded,” an Asian official said of an escort system in the Strait of Hormuz which is 21 miles (33 km) wide at its narrowest point. France, Britain and Germany, which with Russia and China are party to the agreement, have tried to rescue the deal and defuse tensions. France, which has a naval base in the United Arab Emirates, does not plan to escort ships and views the U.S. plan as counterproductive to easing tensions because Tehran would see it as anti-Iran, a French official said. Under Washington’s proposal, the United States would provide coordinating ships and lead surveillance efforts while allies would patrol nearby waters and escort commercial vessels with their nation’s flags. A decision by Japan to join such an initiative would be likely to inflame a divide in Japanese public opinion over sending troops abroad. Japan’s military has not fought overseas since World War Two. The United States is struggling to win its allies’ support for an initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes because of fears it will increase tension with Iran, six sources familiar with the matter said. A senior Western official based in Beijing said there was “no way” China would join a maritime coalition. A South Korean official said Washington had yet to make any official request. RISING TENSION Tensions rose further on Thursday after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they had seized a foreign tanker smuggling fuel. A U.S. military commander in the region said the United States would work “aggressively” to ensure free passage of vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has said foreign powers should leave securing shipping lanes to Tehran and other countries in the region. The British security source said it was not viable to escort every commercial vessel, a view shared by several other countries. Asked what role Riyadh could play in the U.S. initiative, a Saudi military official said it would be the role that the Saudi-led coalition has been playing for the past few years in the Red Sea as part of the war in Yemen, including escorting and securing commercial shipping. “The Americans want to create an ‘alliance of the willing’ who confront future attacks,” a Western diplomat said. “Nobody wants to be on that confrontational course and part of a U.S. push against Iran.” India has deployed two ships in the Gulf to protect Indian-flagged vessels since June 20. Other Asian oil importers are unlikely to have anything but a symbolic presence, such as the involvement of a liaison officer, officials and diplomats said.center_img A U.S. State Department official, who asked not to be named, said Bahrain would host a working group meeting on maritime and aviation security in the autumn as part of a follow-up to a global conference in Warsaw in February that gathered some 60 nations to discuss stability in the Middle East. Britain has a base in Oman and China has a military base in Djibouti, which lies off the Bab al-Mandab strait. Beijing has had to tread softly in the region because it has close energy ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Gulf states, which are big purchasers of Western arms, have invested more in air and land capabilities than in naval assets, and have little experience coordinating large naval missions. SMALL SHIPS The United States does not want to go it alone. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are already patrolling the coastline off Yemen where they are leading a coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, though the UAE has said it is scaling down its presence there. Policing burdens would largely fall on the United States, which has protected shipping lanes in the region for decades with its Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. It also heads the Combined Maritime Forces, a 33-nation naval alliance that carries out security and counterpiracy operations in the region. Technical and financial aspects, such as refuelling, bunkering and maintenance costs, still need to be ironed out before countries sign up, the source said. The majority of vessels are small patrol craft and corvettes that would struggle on extended missions, said Tom Waldwyn, research associate for The Military Balance at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi support U.S. sanctions on Iran, which lacks a strong conventional naval fleet but has many speed boats, portable anti-ship missile launchers and mines. Tension has mounted since U.S. President Donald Trump last year quit a 2015 nuclear pact under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic programme in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy. Washington proposed on July 9 stepping up efforts to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen where it blames Iran and its proxies for tanker attacks. Iran denies the charges. “The Americans have been talking to anyone interested about setting something up, mainly looking to Asia as it’s of vital importance to their security of (oil) supply and asking for ships, but it’s gone a bit quiet,” a Gulf official said. Wheelbarger, the U.S. Pentagon official, suggested small, quick ships would be helpful. She said several countries has expressed interest in the initiative but did not name them. (Source: Reuters) Sea News, July 22 Author: Baibhav Mishralast_img read more

Latvian U-16 basketball players finish the Baltic Cup with victories in…

first_imgLatvian U16 girls basketball team Photo: LBSThe Latvian U-16 women’s basketball team won all three Baltic Cup games this weekend.On Sunday, the Latvians closed the tournament in Kaunas with a victory 84:58 (21:15, 22:19, 24:12, 17:12) beat their peers from Estonia.As in the games with both Lithuanian teams, the Latvians were superior in the fight against baskets (50-41) and in the accuracy of three-point shots (9/19 – 4/24), as well as often intercepted the ball (18-11) and skillfully used the mistakes of opponents (29 -16).On Sunday, Katrīna Ozola had 19 points and nine rebounds, Luize Sila had 16 points and nine balls under the baskets, Andija Sedliņa had 13 points, but Līva Liniņa had 12 points and ten rebounds.As in the conversation with the Latvian Basketball Union (LBS), Aigars Nerips, the head coach of the Latvian U-16 national team, emphasized that all players, including the leaders, still have a lot of work to do to improve and stabilize their skills.“Several basketball players have good prospects, provided they continue to work. The Lithuanians had divided their players into two approximately equal teams. Both victories did not come easily, but every time we found opportunities to neutralize the opponents’ trumps and take advantage of their weaknesses. By joining forces, Lithuanians will be stronger, but we would not be weaker. In addition, for various reasons, several basketball players stayed at home, who could have helped, ”LBS quotes Neripa.At the beginning of the last match, after a collision, unpleasant injuries came to life and two main basketball players – Raina Tomašicka and Tīna Grausa – could not continue the game.“Others had more playing time, and our dominance was not particularly affected. The organizers of the tournament, this time without consulting the coaches, awarded the prize for the best player of our team to Louise Sila, but the most valuable player of the whole tournament was Raina Tomašickas, who was more diverse this time than before. It is nice to end the summer work cycle with three victories. We have used the difficult time usefully, promoting the progress of the players, ”said Nerips.On Friday, the Latvians won the Lithuanian “white” team with 76:64, but on Saturday with 78:58 they defeated the “green” team of the southern neighbors.Meanwhile, the U-16 men’s team finished the tournament with a success of 77:61 (13:18, 15:10, 25:21, 24:12) played against the Estonians.Latvians prevail in three-pointers (10/32 – 3/23), in the fight for rebounds (50-40), but more mistakes (21-16).Dāvis Ozers scored 19 points, Mārtiņš Zuments 13 points, but Christopher Karlson and Ernest Ločmel had ten points each.The head coach of the Latvian U-16 national team Agris Galvanovskis concludes that there is a feeling of unfinished work, because no real opportunities were used to win the third match.The Lithuanian “green” team did not have bright talents, but everyone worked with great fighting spirit, collecting 23 balls at our basket. We did not lack centimeters, but they were not enough. Overall, we played better than in the winter tournaments, but the results should not be overestimated. Lithuanians, combining all the best forces in one team, would be more powerful, this time the Estonians were not helped by a 210 cm long leader who trains in the “Real” system of Madrid, “LBS quotes Galvanovskis.Galvanovskis emphasizes that Latvia does not lack talent against the background of its opponents, but the rival teams were more fierce and sportier.Many people still want to get the result by playing in “white gloves”, but in modern basketball it does not go through. When conclusions are drawn, the result also appears. As today, when we broke the Estonian resistance in the second half, ”says Galvanovskis.Dans Galdiņš received the award for the best player of the Latvian team.On Friday, Latvia overtook the Lithuanian “white” team with 78:75, but on Saturday with 75:81 it lost to the Lithuanian “green” team.Composition of the Latvian U-16 women’s team for participation in the Baltic Cup in Kaunas:Enija Vīksne, Marta Zariņa, Katrīna Ozola (all – “Riga” / TTP), Madara Liepniece, Elizabete Feierberga, Raina Tomašicka (all – “Riga” / “Center”), Līva Kristiāna Gode, Andija Sedliņa, Tīna Grausa, Luīze Sila (all – RBJSS / “Rīdzene”), Līva Liniņa (“Rīga” / ”Jugla”), Valērija Baranovska (“Daugavpils”).Composition of the Latvian U-16 men’s team for participation in the Baltic Cup in Kaunas:Kristofers Karlsons, Dans Galdiņš, Markuss Mamajs (all – “Rīga” / DSN), Kristofers Krivišs (“Rīga” / ”A.Kraukļa VEF BS”), Markuss Lastiņš (“Ogres BS”), Ernests Ločmelis (“Rīga”) / Basketball class ”), Mārtiņš Zuments (IMSS,“ Rīga ”/” Basketball class ”), Dāvis Dāvids Ozers (“ Valmiera ”-“ Ventspils University College ”), Rūdolfs Rudmiezis (“ Cēsis ”-“ Valmiera ”), Armands Gailišs ( “Ezerzeme”), Frederiks Meinarts (BS “Ķeizars”, “VEF school”, “Rīga” / DSN), Pēteris Pinnis (IMSS – “Salaspils”, “Rīga” / “Centrs”).last_img read more