Connect with us

Archives

Large majority of U.S. Senate pushes Obama to boost Israel aid

Published

on

  • U.S. military used ‘roof knock’ tactic in Iraq to try to warn civilians before bombing

More than four-fifths of the U.S. Senate have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to quickly reach an agreement on a new defense aid package for Israel worth more than the current $3 billion per year.

Eighty-three of the 100 senators signed the letter, led by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Coons. Senator Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate, was one of the 51 Republicans on board. The Senate’s Democratic White House hopeful, Bernie Sanders, was not among the 32 Democrats.

“In light of Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges, we stand ready to support a substantially enhanced new long-term agreement to help provide Israel the resources it requires to defend itself and preserve its qualitative military edge,” said the letter, which was first reported by Reuters.

It did not provide a figure for the suggested aid. Israel wants $4 billion to $4.5 billion in aid in a new agreement to replace the current memorandum of understanding, or MOU, which expires in 2018. U.S. officials have given lower target figures of about $3.7 billion. They hope for a new agreement before Obama leaves office in January.

The Obama administration wants to cement a new 10-year defense aid deal before he leaves office in January to demonstrate his commitment to Israel’s security, especially after reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran that Israel strongly opposed. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had a tense relationship.

A White House official said discussions with Israel were continuing.

“We are prepared to sign an MOU with Israel that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history,” the official said.

The funding is intended to boost Israel’s military and allow it to maintain a technological advantage over its Arab neighbors.

The letter said the Senate also intends to consider increased U.S. funding for cooperative missile defense programs, similar to increases in the past several years.

Obama has asked for $150 million for such programs, but lawmakers are believed to be willing to send Israel hundreds of millions for programs like its Iron Dome air defense system and the David’s Sling medium- and long-range military defense system.

In the meantime, the United States borrowed an Israeli military tactic known as “roof knocking” to try to warn civilians before it dropped a bomb targeting Islamic State fighters in Iraq this month, but a woman was killed in the attack, a U.S. military official said on Tuesday.

The controversial tactic consists of firing a warning missile above or near an intended target, to give residents time to flee before the real strike.

The Israeli military used such “roof knocks” in the 2014 Gaza war, but a United Nations commission found in 2015 that the tactic was not effective, because it often caused confusion and did not give residents enough time to escape.

The United States used the tactic in an April 5 operation in the Iraqi city of Mosul. One woman who initially did leave the targeted building but then ran back inside was killed, a U.S. defense official said.

Air Force Major General Peter Gersten, deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led coalition, said the airstrike targeted a building that housed a member of Islamic State in charge of distributing money to fighters, as well as being a cash storage site.

U.S. intelligence and reconnaissance aircraft tracked the site and observed that a woman and children also frequented the house, which the United States believed to contain about $150 million.

Looking to ensure they and any other non-combatants were clear of the building, the military turned to a tactic used by the Israeli Defense Forces in some of its operations against Hamas militants, Gersten said.

The plan consisted of firing a Hellfire missile above the building “so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof to ensure that she and the children were out of the building,” he said.

“We’ve certainly watched and observed their procedure,” Gersten said of the Israelis, while noting that the military did not coordinate with the Israelis on the strike. “As we formulated the way to get the civilians out of the house, this (technique) was brought forward from one of our experts.”

But the woman ran back into the building after the U.S. warplane had fired its weapon, Gersten said, adding that it was “very difficult for us to watch and it was within the final seconds of the actual impact.”

The U.S.-led coalition could employ the roof knock technique again in the future, he said.

The air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria has been a key part of the U.S. plan to eventually destroy the hardline Sunni militant group.

But Islamic State’s presence in major Iraqi and Syrian cities has made it difficult to destroy its most important headquarters, because of concerns about killing scores of innocents in the process.

The U.S. military acknowledges killing 41 civilians so far in the air campaign, which began in 2014.

Reuters

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
ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

Editor’s Pick

Politics