Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Iran overshadows Bush's Mid East trip

One of the Iranian boats which threatened US warships on Sunday

President Bush today called the actions of the Iranian boats, which swarmed around US ships in the Persian Gulf, a ‘provocative act’. The incident which occurred yesterday in the Straits of Hormuz nearly provoked retaliatory fire from the US warships as the Iranian boats sent radio broadcasts. One transmission was heard to say, "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes".

Prior to his visit to the Middle East in order to broker a peace deal between Olmert and Abba, he said “it is a dangerous situation and they should not have done it”. With new pictures released by US authorities, including some audio of the radio messages, the story gained more prominence than in yesterday’s news reports [Sky News / BBC]. In an Unrelated incident two F/A 18 jet fighters crashed in the Persian Gulf. The US military has said there was no indication of hostile fire [CNN]. The planes took of from the USS Harry S Truman which was not involved in yesterday’s incident

With regards the Middle East peace process, President Bush said it was “Important to establish a Palestinian State once the road map obligations are met” [CNN / BBC]. After his visit to Israel, the President is also set to stop by Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to discuss, amongst other things, Iran’s influence on the Middle East. President Bush took off from the US shortly before midnight [GMT] and will land in a region which has begun to see an increase in violence. Besides Iraq which sees violence almost daily [CNN], strikes between Israel and Palestinian militants have increased in recent weeks. Lebanon has also seen a number of incidents as President Bush heads to the region. Two rockets were launched by militants from Lebanon into Israel on Tuesday [BBC]. And in a bombing south of Beirut, two UN workers were injured [BBC]. Several groups have taken the opportunity of Bush’s visit to promote their political and violent agenda. On Monday an American al-Qaeda supporter appeared by way of an internet broadcast, calling for the President to be greeted with “bombs and booby trapped vehicles”. Adam Gadahn, who is wanted by the FBI for treason, also symbolically tore up his US passport [BBC].

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