Category Archives: International

Iranian Naval Force Reaches Bab al-Mandeb

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

According to the Iranian news agency, IRNA, Iranian naval forces of the 34th Fleet have reached the Bab el-Mandeb, a strategic strait and oil traffic choke point between Yemen and Djibouti, Iran’s navy commander said earlier today. The force consists of the frigate, Alborz (F-72) and the light replenishment ship, Bushehr (AORLH-422).

81591243-6422709V_IRIN_Adm Sayyari

IRIN Commander Vice Admiral Habibolla Sayyari (IRIN Photo)

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that the IRIN ships are on an anti-piracy patrol mission. “We are present in the Gulf of Aden in accordance with international regulations to ensure the safety of commercial ships of our country against the threat of pirates,” he said. Iranian merchant shipping has been attacked by Somali pirates in the past. Sayyari also stated that the Iranian Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the Gulf of Aden, Bab el-Mandeb Strait and western India since 2008.

http://irna.ir/en/News/81591243/

IRINS Frigate, Albroz (F-72) FARS Photo

IRINS Frigate, Albroz (F-72) FARS Photo

Last week, Pentagon sources indicated that nine-ship Iranian convoy, suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen had reversed course, but did not indicate the disposition of the Iranian naval vessels.

The 34th Fleet usually rotates anti-piracy operations in the area with the IRIN 33rd Fleet, according to www.arrse.uk

[NOTE: Bab al-Mandeb means “Gate of Tears” in Arabic.]

US Response to Iranian Seizure of the MV Maersk Tigris

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The US is prepared to deal with increasing naval tensions in the Persian Gulf in response to the Iranian seizure of the Marshall Islands registered Danish container ship, MV Maresk Tigris, according to Pentagon sources.

The US State Department, after consultation with Marshall Islands officials, has clarified its position. “The U.S. continues to have “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to the State Department’s website. The Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States in 1986, but continues in the US sphere of defense, according to a treaty.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/30/state-dept-pentagon-send-conflicting-messages-on-us-response-to-iran-cargo-ship

Subsequently, FOX News televised reports that the US Navy will escort American-flagged commercial vessels through the Straits of Hormuz.

US and Marshall Islands Weigh Options Over Iran’s Seizure of the Maersk Tigris

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

In response to the recent Iranian seizure of the Danish-owned, Marshall Island registered container ship, MV Maersk Tigris, US State Department and Marshall Islands officials are considering various options in this matter.

Currently, the US Navy has a maritime security task force in the Persian Gulf monitoring the situation consisting of : the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, USNS Farragut, (DDG-99,) and Typhoon class coastal patrol ships USNS Thunderbolt (PC-12), USNS Firebolt (PC-10) and USNS Typhoon (PC-5) operating in the area near the Strait of Hormuz following the Iran’s detention of the cargo ship, according to Pentagon sources.

http://news.yahoo.com/u-marshall-islands-discuss-way-ahead-iran-detains-174331669.html

According to an Iran Project report, The US State Department has announced that it was “premature” to say whether the use of force is needed in this matter.

http://theiranproject.com/blog/2015/04/29/us-rejects-use-of-force-over-ship-boarded-by-iran-in-strait-of-hormuz/

It is likely that the US Defense Department is also evaluating contingency plans in this matter in case the situation intensifies.

Iranian Naval Force Seizes Danish Cargo Ship

US Navy Responds

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Elements of the Iran Revolutionary Council Guard Navy (IRCGN) have boarded and seized a Danish-owned cargo ship, MV Maersk Tigris (originally bound for the UAE from Saudi Arabia) in the Persian Gulf, earlier today.

An earlier report from the Iranian FARS News Agency claimed that the MV Maersk Tigris was a US-owned cargo ship. The report also claimed that the trade vessel was seized by the Iranian naval forces at the request of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation. The order was officially issued regarding alleged long-standing overdue payments that the vessel’s account owed to the IPMO. The ship was reportedly boarded and directed to the southern Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940208001509

According to Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren, the container ship was in Iranian waters [near the Straits of Hormuz] when it was approached and surrounded by a group of Iranian patrol vessels at approximately 0905 Zulu (GMT). Subsequently, the Maersk Tigris reportedly sent out a distress signal that was monitored by US Navy forces in the Persian Gulf area.

“The [ship]master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters,” He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris. The master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island.”, he said.

Pentagon officials stated that the guided missile destroyer, the USNS Farragut, (DDG-99, Arleigh Burke class) and surveillance aircraft of the US Central Naval Command (NAVCENT) have been dispatched to the area. NAVCENT has also “directed aircraft to observe the interaction between the Maersk vessel and the IRGCN [Iranian] craft.

However, the ship’s manager, Cor Radings, a spokesman for Rickmers ship management, told Bloomberg that the ship, chartered by Rickmers, was in international waters when the Iranians approached it.

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-28/ship-seized-by-iran-wasn-t-u-s-flagged-pentagon-says

The 62,292-ton (dwt) container ship, MV Maersk Tigris (IMO-9694581 ) is owned by the Maersk Line, based in Denmark and is registered in the Marshall Islands. Its 34-member crew is multinational and includes Europeans. Pentagon officials have indicated that there are no U.S. citizens on board.

This contradicts initial reports, by the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya News Channel, which claimed that the ship was American owned and manned by American crew members.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/04/28/Iran-holds-U-S-ship-34-sailors-.html

A more detailed report is available at:

http://heavy.com/news/2015/04/maersk-tigris-mv-ship-marshall-islands-american-united-states-iran-seizes-cargo-commercial-vessel-strait-hormuz-crew-injuries-response-port-p

Further information on the MV Maersk Tigris is available at:

www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=741942

According to marinetraffic.com, as of 2015-04-28 18:35, the Maersk Tigris was at anchor at Latitude / Longitude: 27.03202° / 56.27347° in the Persian Gulf near the Iranian island of Qeshm across from Bandar Abbas.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/details/ships/shipid:1635726/mmsi:538005749/imo:9694581/vessel:MAERSK_TIGRIS

The IRCGN is a separate branch of the Iranian armed forces as distinct from the regular Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN), currently involved in international waters of the Gulf of Aden. Iranian political posture is integrally linked to this matter, as the IRCGN (formed after the 1979 Iranian Revolution) is more integrated with the Islamic Republican regime than the IRIN.

It is not clear at this point what direct jurisdiction and mission, beyond monitoring that the US Navy may have in this matter; however, according to a treaty, the US is responsible for the defense of the Marshall Islands, a UN-member South Pacific state.

Finnish Navy Fires Depth Charges in Territorial Waters Near Helsinki

By: Wolf von Baumgart , Staff Writer

The Finnish Ministry of Defense has stated that its maritime surveillance system detected a possible submarine intrusion in Finnish Baltic territorial waters near Helsinki (Helsingfors) at approximately Noon (local time) on April 27. Finnish Navy surface vessels conducted an area search and subsequently fired warning depth charges at approximately 3am earlier this morning after a second detection was registered.

The incident is currently under investigation. No official statements as to the possible source of the submarine target have been issued as yet, pending outcome of the investigation.

Various neutral and NATO-affiliated Baltic Area States have reported increased Russian submarine and air force maneuvers described as unsafe, intrusive or provocative (occasionally involving territorial incursions) as well as increased surface naval activity in nearby international waters.

The original Finnish Defense Ministry statement can be read here:

http://www.defmin.fi/en/topical/press_releases/finnish_navy_detected_possible_underwater_target_in_the_territorial_waters_off_helsinki.6211.news

Russia’s Geopolitical Posture May Be Inconsistent With Its START Strategy.

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Russia’s nuclear strategy appears to be inconsistent with recent Russian geopolitical posture, including recent nuclear treats to Denmark, a Russian general’s call for preemptive nuclear strikes against NATO, etc. in the face of its actual strategic nuclear weapons reduction according to the latest Nuclear Notebook, written by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists.

According to their analysis, Russia is continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal while reducing strategic nuclear launchers well below the limit set by the New START Treaty. The overall Russian force appears to be leveling off at nearly below 500 strategic launchers over the next decade, as older Soviet-era ICBMs are scheduled to be retired.

Russia currently has 4,500 nuclear warheads. 1,780 are deployed on missiles and bomber bases with 700 additional strategic warheads and 2,000 nonstrategic warheads in storage. An estimated 3,200 retired but largely intact warheads now await dismantlement.

Read and download the entire report at: http://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/04/russianotebook/

Iran Denies Shipping Weapons to Houthi Insurgents

Fighting Intensifies in Yemen

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Speaking in response to recent reports of suspected arms shipments, Iranian Navy Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, has officially denied that the Irianian convoy was carrying arms destined for Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Furthermore, he said that Iran Navy warships were originally deployed along area shipping routes as an anti-piracy operation in accordance with UN approved resolutions.

81584120-6410272_IRIN Comander Admiral Habibolla Sayyari

IRIN Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari (IRNA photo)

He also stated that Iran would maintain warships in international waters of the Gulf of Aden for at least the next several months, Admiral Sayyari also rejected reports that Iran’s fleet has been warned to leave the Gulf of Aden, according to the Islamic Republic’s state news agency, IRNA.

http://irna.ir/en/News/81584120/

Meanwhile, in an apparently new phase of the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in Yemen, observers on the ground have stated that [unspecified] foreign warships have shelled various Houthi emplacements around Aden’s commercial port facilities, according to Reuters. Major Saudi air strikes on the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, were also reported.

http://news.yahoo.com/saudi-led-air-strikes-hit-yemeni-capital-ending-072124975.html

There is no word as yet as what, if any effect these developments will have on US Navy activity in the area.

Yemen Area Naval Situation De-escalates

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The US/Iranian naval tensions, related to suspected strategic arms shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen appears to be de-escalating as the US Navy aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy are being withdrawn and are now heading back to the Persian Gulf, according to Pentagon officials.

Yesterday, the nine-ship Iranian convoy, thought to be carrying arms to Yemen, contrary to UN sanctions, reversed course in the Arabian Sea.

The International Dimensions of Yemen Sector Naval and Evacuation Operations

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Beyond the current U.S. “Big Stick” naval diplomacy versus Iranian (pre-nuclear) asymmetric maritime power play situation in open waters off the coast of war-torn Yemen, international dimensions have evolved.

According to the International Business Times, three German and two Japanese Navy vessels are known to be along the southern periphery of the oceanic area between the port cities of Aden in the west and Al Mukalla further east. The IBT article cited its source as: http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833 , a free global ship tracking site.

Their specific configurations and missions are virtually unknown at this point, but are surmised to be more directed toward general external maritime traffic monitoring rather than surveillance and arms interdiction in Yemeni waters.

http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833

Egyptian and Saudi Naval vessels are monitoring Yemeni waters, with Saudi warships effectively closing Yemen’s commercial ports, preventing ship movements earlier this month.

Five French Navy ships as well as various Indian, Russian, and Chinese naval assets are also present in the region. Pakistan has also agreed to send navy ships.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/04/17/263508/pakistan-agrees-to-send-ships.html

An illustrative map and chart of most naval and air assets committed to the Yemen area is viewable at:

http://cigeography.blogspot.com/2015/04/operation-resolute-storm-saudi-led.html

Under the April 14 UN Security Council arms embargo, allied naval forces may monitor ships outside the recognized 12-mile territorial limit of Yemeni waters. However, they have no legal mandate to stop board and search vessels of any nationality, unless clearly justified in anti-piracy operations. Legal authority to interdict ships suspected of arms trafficking takes effect only upon their entry into Yemeni waters.

International cooperation in recent evacuation operations was well coordinated and executed. India evacuated nationals of 23 other countries besides its own nationals in Operation Rabat, concluded on April 8.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/23-countries-want-indias-help-in-yemen-evacuation-operations/

Russian and Chinese evacuations also afforded safe passage to foreign nationals.

http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20150405/1020494564.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/03/us-yemen-security-china-idUSKBN0MU09M20150403

[ Ironically, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt is nicknamed “the Big Stick” and its call sign is “Rough Rider”. ]

Iranian Convoy Bound for Yemen Reverses Course

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of annonymity in an apparently unauthorized statement, said that the nine-ship convoy of Iranian cargo ship suspected of carrying advanced weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen has apparently reversed its course, at least temporarily.

The official said it remains unclear where the convoy is currenly headed, but it reportedly was no longer moving toward of the key Yemani port of Aden as of Thursday, April 23.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, yesterday, would not indicate whether or not the US Navy would forcibly stop and board Iranian ships entering Yemeni waters.

It should be noted that this report is, as yet, unconfirmed, given the circumstances of its release.

See: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-official-iranian-cargo-ships-reverse-30534625

U.S. Probably Will Not Join KSA Blockade of Yemen

Further Pentagon Denials Issued

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The United States will not join in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s naval blockade of Yemen according to a Pentagon Spokesman, quoted in an April 17 Washington Post article by Dan Lamothe.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/17/navy-has-seven-combat-ships-around-yemen-as-saudi-led-blockade-continues

The Midlantic Dispatch has compiled a list of eleven ships from various sources, comprising the currently deployed US Navy force as follows:

Nimitz class aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-70); Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USNS Normandy (CG-60); Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers USNS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), USNS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) and USNS Sterett (DD 104); Avenger class minesweepers USNS Sentry (MCM-3) and USNS Dextrous (MCM-13); amphibious assault ship USNS Iwo Jima (LHD-7, Wasp class), amphibious transport dock USNS New York (LPD-21, San Antonio class); dock landing ship USNS Fort McHenry (LSD-43, Whidbey Island class), and dry cargo ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10, Lewes and Clark class). Attached is a force of about 2400 US Marines.

Iranian ships are said to be patrolling in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow body of water and critical oil transport chokepoint between Yemen and Djibouti connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to an April 19 Big News Network post:

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/232097333.

A US official, quoted in an April 21 ABC News report stated the Iranian convoy remains in international waters 150 miles east of the Yemen-Oman border headed in a westward direction.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-navy-ships-board-iranian-ships-headed-yemen/story?id=30479887

According to the Washington Post in light of the US increase of naval force near Yemen, Air Force Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM), downplayed the development, saying the United States is not a part of the Saudi-led blockade and is simply patrolling waters in the region as usual.

The Washington Post and CNN have reported that according to a navy spokesman, Lt. Timothy Hawkins, at the Pentagon, no other ship has been boarded in the area since April 1, when a boarding party from the destroyer USS Sterett, searched the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Saisaban in the Red Sea near western Yemen. It was suspected to be carrying weapons from Iran to Yemen, but nothing was found. The search was actually consentual, as the US does not have authority to forcibly board Panamanian ships.

The United States Navy has previously confirmed that it has routinely searches ships in the region for arms while conducting anti-piracy operations near the Horn of Africa.In 2013, Force Reconnaissance Marines with a maritime raid force (as part of anti-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa) boarded a ship in search of an insurgent leader off the coast of Yemen who was not found. The USN ship’s commanding officer indicated that the Navy often looked for area weapons smuggling activity on small vessels known as dhows.

On or about March 30, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originally imposed a naval blockade of Yemeni ports aimed at preventing arms shipments to Houthi rebels. Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri stated on March 30 that coalition naval forces are blocking the movement of ships to prevent weapons and fighters from entering or leaving Yemen. He also said they had not yet intercepted anything at that time.

Currently, the Iranian ships are supposedly located in international waters outside of the Saudi-imposed blockade zone.

On April 14th, the UN Security Council approved a general arms embargo on aid to Houthi combatants. Iran is additionally precluded from exporting arms under UN sanctions related to its nuclear weapons development program under Resolution 17137 (of December 23, 2006 ) et.al., according to CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/14/middleeast/yemen-crisis/

[See also: http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1737/ ]

UPDATE 4/24/2015: Additional US Navy ships involved in operations in the Yemen maritime sector are listed as Arleigh Burke class guide missle destoyer USNS Farargut (DDG-99), fast combat support ship USNS Artic (T-AOE-8, Supply class), Fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203, Henry J. Kaiser class). The IRINS light replenishment ship Bushehr (AORLH-422, Bandar Abbas class) was deployed with the Iranian Navy Frigate Alborz (F-72, Alvand class)

Exiled Russian Duma Member Tells All

An Interview With Ilya Ponomarev

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

On March 20, 2014, contrary to the will of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ilya Ponomarev cast the sole vote of opposition when the Russian State Duma voted 445 to 1 to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea. He stated that it was his duty to do this as a matter of principle.

Within a few months, he was summarily stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution and exiled from Russia. Although still officially a Duma member, he is now is working to organize a more formal opposition to Putin from within the Russian Diaspora, outside of the country.

Currently residing in the US, Ponomarev in a VOX interview, reveals the forces behind renewed Russian expansion, the roots and limits of Putin’s power, possible future changes in store for Russia and answers the question of why President Putin is not afraid of President Obama.

Read the entire interview here:

href=”http://www.vox.com/2015/4/21/8458697/russia-putin-ilya-ponomarev” target=”_blank”

US- Iranian Naval Situation Not Widely Disclosed.

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Apparently, US Naval forces have already boarded a vessel suspected of carrying arms to Yemen in the Red Sea. On April 1, according to the Wall Street Journal, a search of the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Saisaban by a boarding party of the guided missile destroyer USNS Sterett (DDG 104) on April 1 did not find evidence of an arms shipment. This is the first boarding operation conducted in the area to intercept strategic arms bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen according to US military officials.

Read the original WSJ story here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-wants-to-block-iran-from-arming-yemens-houthi-rebels-1428868461

The USNS Sterett is a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. Details are available at: www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg104

Details of the Panamanian freighter Saisaban are available at : http://www.uskowioniran.com/2015/04/uss-sterett-boards-cargo-ship-searching.html

The Navy is currently expanding operations around Yemeni waters in the Arabian Sea. There is no word as yet if Iranian vessels under Iranian naval escort will be boarded by elements of the US Navy.

Meanwhile, in another incident not widely disclosed, an unarmed Iranian observation Y-12 aircraft made two separate passes at and approached within 50 yards of an armed US Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter that was flying from the deck of the USNS Carl Vinson (CVN -70, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier) on a routine patrol in international airspace in the Persian Gulf.

This incident aroused aeronautical safety as well as command and control concerns. US Navy officials indicated that this aggressive, deviant, unsafe and rather unprofessional maneuver may have been ordered by a local Iranian commander, according to an April 1, 2015 CNN report. http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/31/politics/iran-aircraft-buzzes-navy-helicopter-persian-gulf/index.html

Details of the USS Carl Vinson are available at: www.navy.mil/local/cvn70

Another Reason to Oppose Fast Track

TPA Fast Track Authority could be Trojan Horse for Open Borders

Dick Morris exposes how Congress would be foolish to give up its authority to make amendments and give up its proper role of supervision of trade. Now buried in the Trans Pacific Partnership is climate change and open borders. It may be a stealth EU. Some Republicans have been quick and even shrill to denounce as amnesty anything that addresses the problem of the 11 million immigrants here without proper papers. Here is something worse than amnesty. It is open borders. They had better wake up on this one.

Republican leaders are blindly and inexplicably pushing Fast Track in spite of the fact the last 8 years have demonstrated that many responsible trade pacts can be passed without it. In fact, you have a broader and more responsible consensus when the President knows that Congress has there as an equal partner.

Reagan had fast track authority, Nixon had fast track (the first President to have it), Clinton had fast track so it should be a Presidential power goes the argument. First those Presidents at least focused on trade agreements for the sake of trade. Second, the fact is that the President should not even be negotiating trade agreements. Unlike treaties which are under the President with advise and consent of the Senate (advise means that they should have input before the treaty is submitted which the President seems determined to avoid as much as possible in the Iran deal.), the authority to regulate trade is a Congressional authority under Article 1. Why? Nothing affects the economy in the original Constitution (before the advent of the income tax and reinterpretation of the Commerce clause) like trade agreements. The Founders wanted the House to be involved because it represented the interest of the people directly. They did not want the economic interests of Americans to be another bargaining chip for the Executive and the Senate to use for their foreign policy interests. The trade representative is supposed to be a Congressional appointee. Congress gave away its primacy to the executive on this issue with the disastrous result of a wrecked manufacturing base.

Congress is now considering giving fast track to an imperial regime bent on locking in its legacy of fundamentally transforming America by any means possible. This President could use the slavish devotion of many Republicans to anything labeled free trade to achieve anything that he can negotiate. Open borders, labor law, and climate change seem to be his starting point. The best way to save free trade is to make sure Congress can keep it free. Otherwise, we will get a socialist pact supporting open borders and executive amnesty. Republicans will commit at least short term electoral suicide and maybe find long term irrelevance with the economic and demographic changes ushered in if the TPA becomes law without possible amendments.

Other problems with the TPA is that it leaves out countries like Singapore and the Republic of Korea while including low wage havens like communist Vietnam and Malaysia which is overwhelmingly Muslim (by itself that is not bad, but giving open borders authority to a place that may become infiltrated is not wise.) It will put even more pressure on American wage earners and be another challenge for national security.

Morris said, “This is huge. I hope everybody listening takes action call your senator about it. If he is a Republican he is voting wrong. “I dont think that people understand that in this deal which is a trade agreement among Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile, there’s a provision for free flow of workers, just like in the European Union. What It means is unrestricted immigration. It means literally that congress would not have the authority to restrict immigration because a treaty supersedes a statute under our constitution.”

Are U.S. Warships Heading To Yemeni Waters to Intercept Iranian Weapons Shipments?

Conflicting News Reports Emerge

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

We are getting conflicting reports of possible US Navy intercepts of Iranian weapons shipments in or near Yemeni waters. A Huffington Post article stated that US Navy officials have confirmed that the aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt is headed toward the area to join other US Navy vessels (including the cruiser USNS Normandy) that are prepared to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Houthi insurgents in Yemen, while a Washington Times article stated that a US Navy spokesman at the Pentagon has officially denied this claim, classifying the event instead as conducting “maritime security operations”.

The US Navy has, in response to the recent coup in Yemen, increased its presence in the Arabian Sea. No details on Iranian naval movements in the area are currently available, however, an unspecified convoy of Iranian supply ships is reported to be heading towards Yemani ports.

The reports may be compared as follows:

href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/20/us-warship-iran-weapons_n_7102168.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592″>

href=”http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/20/navy-officials-us-warship-heads-to-yemeni-waters-t/”>

*** UPDATE: ***

The semi-official Fars News Agency has reported that Iranian warship Alborz [F-72] has left Iranian waters for deployment in response to stepped-up US weapons shipments to the Saudi-backed coalition. On Wednesday April 8, 2015 Iran dispatched a destroyer and another logistic vessel to waters near Yemen

The Alborz is an Alvand class frigate (built in Britian) commissioned in 1971.

Latest START ICBM Numbers

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

A recent report in the FAS Roundup states that the Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) level has actually dipped below that of the US. Russia currently has 1,582 warheads on 515 strategic launchers deployed and the United States has 1,597 warheads on 785 launchers, according to US State Department data. Both sides are very gradually reducing their ICBM force levels to meet limits set by the Strategic Arms Limitation (START) treaty by February 2018.

The entire report, New START Treaty Count: Russia Dips Below U.S. Again, written by Hans M. Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, is available at: http://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/04/newstart2015/ .

Delaware’s Congressional Delegation Had Differing Responses to BEBE

Senator Carper seemed to forget his moderate image and boycotted the Netanyahu address, while Senator Coons and Congressman Carney found common ground with his concern about Iran. While Carney faulted Boehner for politicizing the format, he thought Netanyahu gave a strong speech and was acting in his nation’s interests.

I agree with Congressman Carney that the PM was acting his nation’s interest, but I also think the Speaker was. He was asserting the duty of Congress to bring to the forefront a critical issue that affects our national interest. It is not politicizing something to debate and discuss it. 90% of the politicizing was on the side of the Obama administration and Minority leader Pelosi. They are the ones who appeal to partisanship and image while refusing to discuss the issue. That is the essence of politicizing the issue.

Bebe Brings The House to Its Feet

Netanyahu struck a tone of reconciliation to Democrats in the beginning but did not compromise on his hardline toward Iran. Most Democrats attended the event despite efforts to rally a boycott. The address even enticed former Congressman, now Governor, John Kasich back to the chambers. For those with slower internet, a taste of the address is below and for those watching, go to about 22 minutes. Continue reading

ISIL Has Nothing to do With Islam Proclaimed Kerry

The Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam because John Kerry said so? That is the stupidest statement out of the State Department in a long time. I guess a jobs plan will solve the issue.

I liked the President’s statement that they are a perversion of Islam. That is what Kerry should have said. It is an extreme perversion that is corrupting Islam and threatening the stability of the Middle East. The interpretation of these folks are around a quarter of Islam. They are in at least 16 countries. If we deny the basis of the movement, we can not fight it. We will just go from one organization to another and not fight the movement. Reagan understood that Communism must be defeated as a movement not individual countries or guerrilla groups. We need the same approach to radical Islam.

We cannot defeat an enemy that we are afraid to engage on the ground, and refuse to engage on the battlefield of ideas.

What’s Up with Turkey?

The fact that Russia has given up on the South Stream pipeline for Southern Europe and is striking a deal with Turkey is not shocking. Turkey is growing and wants energy from somewhere not the Middle East. What is more interesting is that Turkey has been supplied the best arms as NATO member and refuses to be a significant partner in the war against ISIS. The few sanctions that the E U levied against Russia for the situation in Ukraine are undermined by Turkey rushing to fill the gap. Now Putin calls Turkey his strategic partner. Turkey is supporting Hamas. It is fighting the Kurds behind our back instead of aiding Kurdish fighters in Syria. It blasts Assad but runs to his enabler. Turkey has a long history of moderate Islamic leaders. It was the center of Islam’s golden age. Many fear it is sliding the wrong way, but what explains this turn to its long time rival in the region, Russia?

Bush Was Right

“I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we allowed the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.” President George W. Bush in 2007

Random Thoughts Locally, Nationally, and Internationally

Some people dared exercise freedom of speech and advocated for a pro-business mayor of Newark. Hundreds of jobs were on the line and their side won. Now some people are decrying the notion that a group “bought” the election by spending a mere 45k. What really happened? Some people got motivated, worked the streets, bought advertisement, and made contact with like minded individuals on their own. The last time I checked, that is their right. I am glad to see people stand up and fight for their future as they see it. Labor and business joined with private citizens to fight the anti-job mafia in Newark. I say, good for them. Dover wants to tear down one of its parks and recreation buildings when space is at a premium. It can’t afford to spend 80k to repair it, but watch out for proposals to spend millions to build another one. Talk has already started. Senator Rand Paul R-KY is at it again. He is sponsoring a 4th amendment protection bill. I stand with Rand. GOD bless him. The people of Afghanistan have spoken in their council of leaders. 2500 from all across the country were summoned by President Karzai. He said he would not sign the status of forces agreement without their support. He wanted a consensus from the country. They overwhelmingly approved the training and anti-terrorist forces and urged it be signed quickly. Now he says–I didn’t really mean it. Who are these guys anyway. I agree with one local who says he sounds like he is losing his mind. I think it is just that he doesn’t know how he will make money off it. Call me cynical. The people of Afghanistan have some legitimate complaints they want addressed, but they support America’s presence here. President Karzai is out on a limb of his own making. Iran says it will slow down its nuclear program in exchange for relaxing sanctions. The people in the area, the Gulf states and Israel are very skeptical of the agreement. The people in favor of it seem to have the least to lose. I don’t know what that says. I guess it is better than war. We shall see. It is too bad that the agreement does not include not taking that money released for terrorism and proxy wars. Iran has enough money to fund wars in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel’s Palestinian majority areas, but not enough to help its people. Then again we do that too. Republicans are searching like Diogenes for the perfect candidate. In reality, a good candidate grounded with real issues who has a great organization and messaging beats a perfect candidate most of the time. Technique and organization matter as much as the candidate. Republicans need to start campaigning in the 21st century. President Obama got that. He won because he reached his voters again and again and we did not start until around August/September. That is party work. He did it for 2 years and we did it for 4 months. By the time we started, his voters had been contacted 3 or more times in person, by phone, and electronically. Those are my thoughts.

Benjamin Netanyahu Is a Real Leader: Evidence Iran

When I think of a strong leader on the International stage, I think of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The Israeli Prime Minster is tough, smart, and works for the betterment of his country every waking hour. I wish we could work out a trade.  They can pick any 10 of our federal leaders and we get Bebe. As evidence of this fact, I submit the recent nomination of Iran to a senior seat on the Disarmament committee is like Columbian drug lords being given a chance to pick people for senior DEA slots. Who is the only leader speaking up?  Is it the leader of the free world?  The prime minister at the head of the great British Commonwealth?  Is it the French?  No, it is the PM of little is Israel. Leadership is exuded by this former commando and 3 time PM.