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Phantom Iranian Ship sails for Gaza 

Politics / Middle East Jun 16, 2010 - 01:51 AM GMT

By: Mike_Whitney

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleWhy are members of the western media saying that an Iranian ship is on its way to Gaza? Is it just an innocent mistake or is there something more sinister involved?

The first reports of an Iranian flotilla first appeared on Israeli news-sites late Sunday night. This (accurate report) is from the Jerusalem Post:  


"The Iranian Red Crescent has equipped and loaded two ships with aid, and is waiting for permission from the Iranian Foreign Ministry to set sail for Gaza, AFP reported on Sunday. A third ship is planned for next week.  ("Iranian ships ready to sail to Gaza", JPost.com Staff)

Similar reports appeared on two other Israeli news-sites before the news finally showed up on Iran's Press TV late Monday. Here's an excerpt from the Press TV report titled "Iran to send aid ships to Gaza":

"Iran's Red Crescent says two shipments of relief goods and relief workers will be sent to the besieged Gaza Strip BY THE END OF THE WEEK.

"These relief goods include food, medication and medical equipments. The ships will be sent to Gaza by the end of this week," said Red Crescent Director for International Affairs Abdul Rauf Adibzadeh, quoted by IRNA on Sunday. ("Iran to send aid ships to Gaza" Press TV)

Note the Iranian version states that "The ships "will be" sent to Gaza by the end of this week," not "have been" sent as reports in the western media claim. In this case, the difference could be significant.

Late Monday, more news agencies picked up the story, but with one big difference. They said that one Iranian ship was already en route to Gaza. This is from CNN:

"An Iranian ship carrying aid supplies HAS SET SAIL FOR GAZA  and two others are expected to leave next week, two of Iran's semi-official news agencies reported on Monday.

Iran's Mehr news agency said that an Iranian ship carrying humanitarian aid left the port of Khorramshahr on Saturday, heading towards Gaza. ("Iran sending aid ships to Gaza, Iranian agencies say", CNN)

I found no evidence of CNN's claim that an Iranian ship "had set sail for Gaza" on the Mehr news agency's website.

This is from Iran's Fars News Agency:

"Iran announced its plans to dispatch a convoy of humanitarian aid to Gaza NEXT WEEK to help the oppressed Palestinian people who have been suffering an Israeli-imposed siege for more than three years. ("Iran to Send Humanitarian Aids to Gaza", Fars News Agency)

   There's nothing on any of the three Iranian news sites that would corroborate CNN's claim that "Iranian news agencies say one ship left Saturday for Gaza".  CNN appears to mistaken.

This is from the UK Guardian:

"Iran is sending two aid shipments towards Gaza, officials said today, a move likely to further heighten tensions with Israel. ONE SHIP LEFT ON SUNDAY and another, carrying food, construction materials and toys, was due to depart later this week, Iranian state radio said. According to the country's ISNA news agency, the shipment is being organized by the Society for the Defence of the Palestinian Nation, which insists it is not connected to the Iranian state." ("Iran sends aid ships to Gaza", Guardian)

The Guardian report appears to be wrong, too. Here's what I found on the ISNA website:

  "TEHRAN (ISNA)- Deputy Director of the Association for Defending the Palestinian Nation in Iran Mohammad Ali Nourani said dispatching aid flotillas to Gaza Strip will continue till lifting Gaza siege. In a press conference on Monday, Nourani said an aid flotilla dubbed "towards Gaza" will be sent from Iran to Gaza IN A FEW DAYS.  The aid convoy will move from southwestern city of Khorramshahr to Iranian southern port of Bandar Abbas and then to Gaza" (ISNA)

And then there's this from ABC News: 

 "There’s concern in Washington today about a number of Iranian aid ships headed for Gaza, and that it their movement is nothing but Iranian provocation with the potential for more violence if Israel tries to stop them like they did the flotilla. 

The State Dept today expressed some skepticism about the true intentions of Iranian ships THAT RECENTLY LEFT FOR GAZA. The ships say they are carrying humanitarian aid, construction supplies, and toys for the isolated region......
 

Asked if he thought these aid ships were carrying arms for Gaza,  Crowley said he didn’t know for sure, but said: 

“It remains a very legitimate concern that Israel -- have. They have, in fact, in the past, intercepted ships that were carrying, you know, weapons and armaments that have been used to threaten the Israeli people." ("Iranian Aid Ships Headed Towards Gaza Has US Worried", Kirit Radia and Luis Martinez, ABC News)

If the State Dept and the major media know about this mystery Iranian ship, then why are they withholding the ship's name, its whereabouts, who is on board, and whether its cargo was checked before leaving port?  And why are the basic facts in dispute? Any journalist knows that if he gets his facts wrong on an issue of this importance, he'll get fired.

So, who's telling the truth; the western media or the Iranian media? 

  What we know is this; an Iranian ship sailing towards Gaza is headline news. And that's doubly true since nine peacemakers were shot dead by Israeli commandos.

We also know that Israel is looking for an incident that will vindicate its shooting-spree aboard the Mavi Marmara and prove that the humanitarian flotillas are part of an evil Iranian conspiracy to harm Israel. Israel's objectives are underscored by the comments of Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In an interview with Al Jazeera Regev said:
 
"The regime in Iran is the prime ally of Hamas in Gaza and they have consistently tried to send to Gaza more deadly weapons, rockets and missiles that are used against the people of Israel and Israeli civilians"....."they have an interest in bolstering the Hamas government and in trying to undermine Israel's naval blockade. Obviously we are trying to prevent them from sending weapons to Hamas."

And that's what makes the reports of a "phantom" Iranian ship headed for Gaza so unsettling, because it could be used as a justification for another war. 

By Mike Whitney

Email: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Mike is a well respected freelance writer living in Washington state, interested in politics and economics from a libertarian perspective.

© 2010 Copyright Mike Whitney - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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