Connect with us
>

Archives

Iran Bars Pilgrims From Traveling to Mecca for Hajj

Published

on

In a sign of further tension between regional rivals, Iran will not allow its citizens to travel to Saudi Arabia for the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in September, Iran’s state television reported on Sunday.

The decision, which means that tens of thousands of Iranians cannot make their spiritual journey to the main pilgrimage site of Islam, comes after several failed rounds of talks between officials of both countries and on the heels of accusations that Saudi Arabia has started a cyberwar against Iran.

Iran’s culture minister, Ali Jannati, told state television that “no pilgrims would be sent to to the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina, because of obstacles created by Saudi officials.”

In a statement, Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage organization condemned Saudi Arabia for what it said was a lack of cooperation. “Too much time has been lost and it is now too late to organize the pilgrimage,” the organization said, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah accused a visiting Iranian delegation of refusing to sign an agreement resolving outstanding issues. “They will be responsible in front of Allah Almighty and its people for the inability of the Iranian citizens to perform hajj for this year,” the ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The annual hajj pilgrimage is one of the pillars of Islam. According to religious tenets, every Muslim is duty bound to visit Mecca. The absence of Iranian Shiites during the pilgrimage will further widen the rift with Sunnis, whose extremist adherents accuse Shiites of not being true Muslims.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have remained strained since the start of the conflict in Syria more than five years ago. Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus, while Saudi Arabia supports rebel militias.

Throughout the last year there have been tensions over Iranian visits to Mecca. During the 2015 hajj many pilgrims died in a stampede, with Saudi Arabia claiming around 700 deaths and Iran saying that more than 4,500 people were killed. An independent investigation by The Associated Press put the death toll at 2,411.

In January, Iranian protesters ransacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after a Shiite Muslim cleric was executed in Saudi Arabia, events that led to the severing of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Besides supporting several opposing groups in multiple conflicts in the Middle East, both countries are also engaged in a low-level cyberwar. Since Saturday, several websites belonging to official institutions, including that of Iran’s cyberpolice, were taken down by hackers. In an interview with state television, the deputy commander of the digital police force, Hussein Ramezani, said the IP addresses of the attackers originated in Saudi Arabia.

Among the targeted websites were crucial pieces of government infrastructure, including the Deeds and Property Organization and the postal service. Iran’s Statistical Center was also hacked.

The Al Jazeera news channel, based in Qatar, reported that a Saudi hacker known as “Nimr, Tiger of Saudi Arabia” announced that his group, Electronic Decisive Storm, had attacked Iranian satellite channels’ websites. The semiofficial Iranian news agency Tabnak said other sites had been hit by a hacker called “Da3s.”

“This is not the Islamic State,” Tabnak’s website said. “It appears this comes from Saudi Arabia.”

The attacks come a week after Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of the Iranian Passive Defense Organization, had warned against coming cyberattacks by Saudi Arabia.

In 2012, Saudi Arabia accused Iran of hacking the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, an attack widely seen as Iranian retaliation for the hacking of its main oil terminal on Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf.

In March, the United States Justice Department unsealed an indictment against seven Iranian computer experts who are accused of carrying out cyberattacks against several targets, including financial institutions and a dam in the United States, as part of an assignment for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

On Sunday, General Jalali said the experts were still in Iran, and he called on the Foreign Ministry to “take a stance” against the accusations.

MSN

Archives

WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

Published

on

…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

Continue Reading

Archives

Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

Published

on

The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

Continue Reading

Archives

Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

Published

on

…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

Continue Reading

Advertisement

Editor’s Pick

Politics