Iranian tankers reach Venezuela in defiance of sanctions
The administration of US President Donald Trump said that Washington is considering measures against Iran, which supplies gasoline and other petroleum products to Venezuela. Reuters, citing an anonymous official, wrote that Washington has a high degree of confidence that the Venezuelan government is paying Iran “tons of gold”.
The Iranian side reacted instantly to such threats. In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, warning that Tehran would respond to the US if their tankers were threatened. The Swiss ambassador representing US interests in Tehran was summoned to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.
Despite the threats, the first of five tankers with gasoline arrived safely from Iran to Venezuela on Sunday, May 24. In total, Iran is transporting about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline to the country.
Venezuelan Petroleum Industry Minister Tareck Zaidan El Aissami welcomed the speedy arrival of ships from Iran.
The shipment of #Iran's oil tankers to #Venezuela is part of the scientific and industrial cooperation between the two nations, a solidarity action seeking to supply fuels to the Venezuelan internal market. pic.twitter.com/NDrhvnPlsB
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) May 24, 2020
The US is taking advantage of the difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic, when the entire world economy is suffering to put additional pressure on governments it opposes such as Iran and Venezuela.
The US has extensive sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela. While Washington is involved in a conflict on either side, at this point it is actively hindering bilateral trade between two sovereign, independent countries. It looks paradoxical. Venezuela is one of the largest oil producers in the world. However, the country only exports crude oil, and oil products and gasoline have traditionally come from the US and Europe. As a result, when the US imposed an embargo on the country, Venezuela’s oil-producing country experienced a gasoline shortage.
The US is openly engaged in sabotage against both countries. Only a few months have passed since the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Recently, the US once again attempted to carry out a coup attempt in Venezuela, where a private military company signed a contract with the local pro-American opposition to “overthrow the regime” were arrested while staging a water landing. The ill-fated “Operation Gideon”, failed miserably, but it represents a continued trend of escalations.
Libya: GNA’s offensive
The Government of National Accord in Libya (GNA) launched a major offensive against the Libyan National Army of renegade commander Khalifa Haftar last week. In a statement, Spokesman for the Libyan Army of the Presidential Council’s government Mohammed Gununu said the GNA now control the Yarmouk, al-Sawarikh and Hamza camps south of the capital.
With the help of Turkey, the GNA has captured a number of cities in recent weeks, seized a strategic air base near the Tunisian border and destroyed several LNA anti-aircraft missile systems.
This happened a few days after Ahmed al-Mismari, Spokesman of the LNA, said his forces would retreat from some positions south of Tripoli. The retreat, he said, was part of a redeployment.
However, the GNA forces praised victory, assuming that it was their enemy retreatment, not redeployment
In a two-minute audio recording addressed to his forces on Saturday, Haftar said they would “fight and fight” against what he called “Turkish colonialism”.
Earlier the Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin had said that any attacks against Turkish positions would be retaliated. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hami Aksoy blamed LNA for receiving warplanes with “foreign support” and warned them against striking “ Turkish interests in Libya”.
Statement of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Hami Aksoy
in Response to a Question Regarding the Statements of Haftar’s Militia That They Will Target Turkish Forces and Interests in Libya https://t.co/tMjZEtFE6H
— Turkish MFA (@MFATurkey) May 21, 2020
The success of forces loyal to the GNA is the result of Turkish assistance to Libya, in particular the work of Turkish drone strikes.
On may 24, Salem Alaywan, Mayor of the town Bani Walid said that the Wagner Group, which supported renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, left the country. Government forces spot 7 aircraft arriving in east Libya to transfer 1,500-1,600 mercenaries out of war-torn country
Congress of winners
On May 22, President Xi Jinping attended the 13th Congress of Delegates of the National People’s Congress.
Among the main topics of the Congress were health care, public administration and geopolitical topics such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The Leader of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping emphasized that strengthening the national health care network is a very important task for the country.
He focused on reforming the system of disease prevention and control, noting that China will focus on monitoring epidemics, early response to emergencies, as well as improving legislation in epidemic situations based on the Covid-19 experience.
Although China has handled the coronavirus epidemic effectively and quickly, Xi stressed that Beijing will be cautious and will focus on eliminating possible “post-epidemic syndromes”. He admitted that even in China, weak links in health care have been found and will be improved.
The Congress also raised the issue of the law on the protection of the personal data of Chinese citizens, as in the conditions of global competition data security becomes a guarantee of national security.
Assessing the situation in Taiwan, Chinese politicians stressed that it should be a “peaceful reunion” and condemned any form of separatist activity promoting “Taiwan’s independence”.
Protests in Hong Kong
The Congress in China also discussed the painful topic of Hong Kong – participants agreed that there is a need for an effective and legal mechanism to prevent punishment of offences and crimes that threaten national security.
In Hong Kong itself, many took part in a demonstration against Beijing’s plans to adopt a law to ensure national security on its territory.
The reason for the new demonstrations was a bill that gave China the right to apply national laws in the autonomous zone and open security agencies’ offices there. Hong Kong authorities supported the initiative, stressing that it did not contradict the principle “one country, two systems” and was aimed at countering terrorism and separatism, but the protesters reject any further closeness with the mainland.
During the protests, the protesters committed acts of vandalism, destroying shops, throwing bottles from roofs, throwing stones leading to 180 arrests.
“Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilizing, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the international community”.
Nile – New Negotiations
Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt expressed their readiness to resume negotiations regarding Ethiopia’s contested Nile Dam construction project.
On May 19, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdock held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mustafa Madbuli on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.
These negotiations are extremely important, as the conflict has been smoldering for a long time and threatens to go hot as Ethiopia refuses to compromise on the issue, which many believed could provoke Egypt to take military action. The dam threatens a significant amount of Egypt’s water resources, which is why Cairo has come to see the issue as existential.
Ethiopia, for its part, is outraged by the uneven distribution of the Nile’s water resources and opposes Egypt’s and Sudan’s unilateral agreements on the Nile. That was why Ethiopia had initiated negotiations on the Nile.
As we have written before, the situation requires a comprehensive approach. Sudan is a country that has an interest in resolving the conflict between its neighbours, Ethiopia and Egypt, but its efforts will clearly not be enough if they are not supported. However, Sudan cannot be a mediator in the full sense of the word, because it is itself an active participant in the dispute.