6th us Navy fleet in the Mediterranean is preparing to hunt for Russian tankers
Last Wednesday, five Iranian boats belonging to the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps tried to seize the British oil tanker British Heritage in the Persian Gulf. According to CNN, when a British tanker was leaving the Persian Gulf and entering the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian boats approached it and demanded a change of course.
In response, the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose, which accompanied the ship, pointed the guns at the IRGC boats and urged them to retreat.
It is noteworthy that this incident occurred a week after the British captured an Iranian oil tanker EN route to Syria in the Strait of Gibraltar. Apparently, the Persians tried to answer, but came across uncovered English guns…
It seems that the long-term war in Syria threatens to acquire a new, even more, dangerous quality. Western allies in the fight against Bashar al-Assad are moving to a new strategy. Combat vehicles of the Syrian military, finishing off militants in the North of the country, in the coming months should stop due to a complete lack of fuel. From the point of view of the United States and its allies, this should be as soon as possible to block the supply routes of oil and petroleum products to this country.
In fact, there are only two such routes left: from Iran and Russia. And the capture in Gibraltar by British special forces on July 4, 2019, marching under the Panamanian flag supertanker Grace 1 with a cargo of crude oil for Syria, is only the first step on this very risky path. Moreover. It is possible that soon the Americans will try to do the same with the oil vessels of the Russian Federation, which through the black sea Straits are also very actively driven to the warring Syria oil, gasoline and diesel fuel from our Novorossiysk. Including — and for our aviation group at the Russian military base Hamim and permanent operative connection of the Russian Navy in Tartus. Because the Pentagon is confident that a large part of this fuel falls and Assad’s fighters.
Be sure: if in the Mediterranean sea the ships of the 6th fleet of the US Navy, as well as their allies, really decide to Board at least one Russian tanker — in the Mediterranean sea will not seem to anyone.
Approximately so in an article recently published by the American edition of Bloomberg, says Julian Lee, in the recent past — a senior analyst of the Center for global energy research of the United States. He, in particular, writes: «The Syrian government has two major oil-producing friend — Iran and Russia. Since the routes for the first are obviously closed, you may have to turn to the second. This presents a new set of potential risks. Capturing an Iranian ship in the Strait of Gibraltar is one thing. Stopping a Russian ship in the Aegean is another matter.»
Actually (according to Bloomberg) from the point of view of logistics, the channels for obtaining fuel from foreign markets for Damascus today look like this. On land — full a bummer. Here’s what Julian Lee Writes about it: «us Allies control most of the oil-producing territory in Syria itself, while us forces have saddled most of the transitions from Iraq to Syria, which could be used to create a land route for Iranian products.»
The Syrians will not get a ton through the existing pipelines in the region. The owners of the SUMED pipeline, passing through the land of Egypt and connecting the Red and Mediterranean seas, to supply the Assad regime because of sanctions refuse. Of course, this is all the more impossible through the parallel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline through Israel.
For Assad is only one «road of life» — sea transport. From the main supplier for this country — Iran — this route is the shortest — around the Arabian Peninsula through the Red Sea and the Suez canal. It’s only about 4,100 miles. That before was quite acceptable for Damascus and Tehran. In the period from 2016 to 2018 on this route, every day in Syria from the Persians received about 50 thousand barrels of oil, which in the world no wonder called the «blood» of any war.
To delivery was smooth, Assad even sent in the actual management of Iran its most important Mediterranean port of Baniyas, located just in the middle between Hamim and the Russian bases of Tartus.
However, Baniyas is interesting to the Persians not only the oil refinery located in it, which instantly turned into a strategic object for Damascus. It has long been said that the Persians intend to deploy in this city’s own naval base. First on the Mediterranean. To together with standing nearby Russian warships and aircraft from there to create a more powerful missile counterweight to the 6th feet of the US Navy. Of course, the Americans are not going behind all this without a murmur to watch. First, all the ships seen in the transportation of oil to Syria through the Suez canal were included in the sanctions list of the Office of foreign assets control of the Ministry of Finance. As a result — in November last year, the Iranian supertanker Suezmax Sea Shark, loaded to the brim with oil for the port of Baniyas, habitually passed the Red sea and requested permission to pass Suez in the Mediterranean. However, obedient to the West Egyptians gave the crew from the gate turn.
Further (according to Bloomberg) supertanker anchored off the Egyptian coast is not much, no less — five months. In April 2019, he again made an attempt to pass the channel but was again ruthlessly deployed by Cairo.
Thus, a couple of months ago, reliable before gasoline «road of life» for Assad quietly died. That probably the most disastrous effect on the outcome of the operations of Syrian troops in Idlib against the remnants of bandit Islamist radicals.
What remained for Damascus and Tehran? To Torit for new oil streams, though terribly wasteful path around Africa. Because from the Persian Gulf around Africa to Syria is 14,500 miles. Against, let me remind you, 4100 miles through Suez. In other words — the route is extended more than three times. But the allies simply had no other way.
Here is the first via Gibraltar on a long road trip in early summer and were equipped supertanker Grace 1, detained by British special forces in Gibraltar on 4 July. The importance of such an operation for London and Washington is evidenced by the fact that long before the approach to Gibraltar the Iranian vessel was followed by a large reconnaissance ship HMS Echo of Her Majesty’s Navy. At the entrance from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea from its side was raised a helicopter with well-armed Marines, who quickly took absolutely civilian Grace 1 under control. And instead of Baniyas, he was escorted closer to the European courts.
This was followed by cheers from official Washington. And a fit of hysteria in Tehran. Iran threatened in response to the force of arms to seize in the ocean something British. London reacted to this very seriously. Private tankers in the Persian Gulf, the Royal Navy is now escorting destroyers and frigates.
In short — the situation is in very dynamic development. But the bottom line is one fuel the noose around Assad and his army tighter What do you want Damascus to do without Iranian oil?
It seems that deliveries from Russia remain the only real way out. It is not necessary for the official government of Syria not to tease the West. It is possible — under the guise of the logistics of our military bases in Hamim and Tartus. How to check where the fuel tankers and rail tankers will go from there?
It is quite natural that such a possibility in the United States, at least, discuss. And then they discuss the degree of risk when trying to stop Russian tankers going to the Mediterranean sea from Novorossiysk. Is it possible to do the same with at least one of them as with Iranian Grace 1?
I wouldn’t dismiss that possibility outright. That’s seven years ago — June 19, 2012 — off the coast of Scotland by the same British were already arrested cargo ship «Alaid», EN route from Kaliningrad to Syria. The reason for the detention was the message of the British special services on the transport of the ship repaired mi-25 helicopters for the army of Bashar al-Assad.
Our opponents in the West acted simply but perfectly legally: insurance company Standard Club for formal reasons, withdrew the insurance of the vessel, which made its entry into international ports illegal. We had our «the Alaid» is not empty-handed to return to Murmansk.
Actually, to make sure that Moscow with the beginning of our operation in Syria does not exclude the possibility of intercepting Russian ships NATO should remember some details of the creation of the famous «Syrian Express».
In 2015 and a little later its basis was almost exclusively large landing ships (BDK) of the Russian Navy, which had to be pulled to the Middle East from all fleets. Why? Because in peacetime, the armed seizure of one warship by another practically means a Declaration of war. While the forceful interception of a civilian vessel for various offenses is a common practice all over the world. For violation of international sanctions — including. Point our guide to the «Syrian Express» work smoothly? Was hastily bought and renovated the rusty Turkish freighters and one former «Ukrainian» («Georgy Agafonov»). Which instantly received quite Russian names «Dvinitsa-50», «Kyzyl-60», «Vologda-50», «Kazan-60» , etc. But the main thing — over each of them the Andreevsky flag of the Russian auxiliary fleet was lifted. Despite the lack of weapons and fully civilian crews, this made them part of the Russian Navy. And guaranteed free passage to Syria.