Will the British again try to stop the MV Alaed transition to Syria?
MV Alaed moored off Murmansk
Recently we observed a vessel carrying Russian military hardware return to port after its insurance coverage was withdrawn by the Brits after a special request from the United States.
The U.S government (Hilary Clinton) had asked Britain to help intercept a ship, believed to be carrying Russian attack helicopters and munitions, heading for Syria.
A Russian cargo vessel, the MV Alaed was thought to be making its way to the conflict zone through the North Sea after allegedly picking up MI25 helicopters and a consignment of munitions from the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad, according to the Telegraph.
The American government used a sanctions legislation to force the vessel’s London-based insurer to withdraw its cover and had asked British officials to stop the delivery.
Under terms of the current European Union arms embargo against Syria, which was imposed last May, there is a ban on the transfer or export of arms and brokering services such as insurance.
Now it would appear that this vessel is about to start its journey under a Russian flag having been reregistered and accordingly could now challenge Britain and the European Union´s authority to stop it for the second time.
It was pressure from the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who, revealed that Moscow was in the process of shipping attack helicopters to Syria.
She warned the weapons would escalate the conflict which has already claimed about 10,000 lives (obviously an unconfirmed figure) and as a direct result of this request the British responded by cancelling the vessels insurance certificate.
What is ironic about this entire incident is the fact that Britain and certain EU countries are actively arming and funding the Syrian Rebel Army in much the same way as they did with the Libyan Rebel Army and if you read my last article you will recall that in this case it was Germany that was caught red handed by the Syrians when over 40 German citizens had been arrested while attempting to smuggle arms and ammunitions from international waters on shore inside Syria. The arrest took place over two weeks ago.
Don´t you find this entire episode so hypocritical when it comes to who is allowed to ship what into Syria not forgetting the huge shipments of military hardware and software currently being stockpiled in Israel for likely use against Syria.
Let´s just remind our readers as to how this US, under the radar arms smuggling actually works. It was written into US law that any shipment of arms had to be approved by US Congress with final approval coming from the President who had the ultimate say being the “Supreme Commander.”
All shipments to US allies where done so via a “Transmittal Notice” which clearly disclosed to Congress what was being consigned in fine detail…..however because this system allowed other countries to view those notices it was obvious that some groups could take advantage of this and use it against the US Government as was the case when the US shipped hundreds of Depleted Uranium “Bunker Buster” to Israel ahead of operations “Cast Lead” against Gaza.
It became clear that this shipment could have been totally illegal and against the United States own regulations that relate as to how the weapons are used and in what context.
The US Government and Military suddenly changed this procedure and decide to establish a small US Military base within Israel and in doing so this allowed an internal transfer of weaponry from one US base to another without revealing the shipment via the usual “Transmittal Notices”…………it is also fact that under this new provision it also allows US Military allies to use their stockpile and so now we have a military stockpile that is almost double the norm and is clearly to be used against Syria, Palestine, selected Lebanon targets and naturally Iran.
Back to the main story again the latest report in the Guardian states: Russia may be preparing second attempt at Syrian arms shipment – Ship carrying air defence systems and helicopters that was forced to return to port has been refitted with Russian flag.
The report went on to say: Last week Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, admitted that the Alaed was carrying supplies for Syria. “The ship was carrying air defence systems, which can be used only for repelling foreign aggression and not against peaceful demonstrators, and it was carrying three repaired helicopters,” The shipments show no signs of stopping. An unidentified “military-diplomatic source” told the Interfax news agency on Sunday that the Alaed would soon travel from Murmansk to Syria in a second attempt to deliver the shipment. “The ship will travel under escort to avoid any sort of provocation,” the source said. The escort ship would not be a naval one, the source added.
One could now expect another sharp reaction from Clinton which in turn will put tremendous pressure on the British Government as to what they can do about this vessel without themselves provoking yet another major international incident as this time it would mean the British intercepting a Russian registered vessel!!
The Guardian put the situation in true perspective by saying: The ship would sail under the Russian flag “in order to protect its interests, the security of the ship and the protection of its crew, all of whom are citizens of Russia”, it said.
Analysts said the flag change could up the stakes, threatening an international incident if any attempts were made to board it. Reports said the Russian flag was raised on Monday.
Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov made it very clear “We don’t plan on justifying ourselves, because we haven’t violated anything – not international law, not a UN Security Council Resolution, not our own national laws on export controls, which are some of the strictest in the world.”
With the current tension over the shooting down of the Turkish Fighter Jet, the meeting tomorrow of NATO, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon being totally behind this scam and with the US riding on the back of the British it will be an extremely interesting and yet tense week as to what will be the final outcome.
For my part there are clearly two standards being set here one that allows Britain, US, France and Germany to flaunt international law and ship arms to the rebels and another that attempts to stop the same military supplies coming from pro Syria supporters…………that to me is not only very hypocritical but also presents a very unbalanced playing field.
Peter Eyre – Middle East Consultant – 25/6/2012