AUGUST 8, 2019 | The Jewish Home
the strategic waterway. The ship was reportedly seized the previous Wednesday near the Iranian island of Farsi during routine navy patrols “discovering and confronting organized smuggling.” According to an IRGC officer, the tanker was seized after it became clear that it was “smuggling fuel for some Arab countries.” The Iraqiflagged vessel’s 700,000 liters of oil and seven-man crew remain in Tehran’s custody. Tehran’s latest provocation raises fears that another escalation in the area is underway. In recent weeks, Iran has seized tankers from Britain, Panama, and the UAE while damaging several others, leading to concerns that the Islamic Republic is targeting oil shipments in the sensitive Straits of Hormuz. Tensions in the Persian Gulf have heightened since President Donald Trump slapped draconian sanctions on Iran’s oil sector in 2018 after leaving the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has consistently threatened that if its oil exports, which are vital to the regime’s survival, are harmed, it will disrupt the transfer of oil from other countries in the region through the Strait of Hormuz.
“The Persian Gulf is like a tinderbox and explosion of a firecracker can lead to a huge disaster,” said IRGC Commander Brigadier General Ahmadreza Pourdastan. “All countries which have interests in the region absolutely are not willing to see a new regional crisis.”
South KoreaJapan Tensions Heat Up
Long-simmering tensions between South Korea and Japan deteriorated into a full-blown trade war this past week after both countries slapped new export controls on each other. The current spat began after Japan removed its Pacific neighbor from its list of trusted trade part-
ners. Known as the “whitelist,” the coveted designation allowed member nations to buy sensitive military technology from Japan without going through an arduous process. While Japan stressed that the move “is not an export ban,” the decision incensed South Korea. With the latter’s economy dependent on now-restricted Japanese products, losing the coveted designation will likely deal a severe blow to South Korea’s economy. While Tokyo claims that the decision stemmed from national security concerns, South Korea rejected the explanation, noting that it is the first time Japan has ever removed another country from the list. According to Seoul, Japan’s sudden aggressiveness is punishment for a ruling by the Korean Supreme Court last year ordering Japanese companies to provide compensation to World War II victims. A few hours later, South Korea retaliated by dropping Japan from its own whitelist and filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). “The step taken by Japan today is something that impairs the long-standing economic cooperation
and friendly partnership between our two countries, posing a grave challenge to the bilateral relationship,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “Moreover, it is a selfish, destructive act that will cripple the global supply chain and wreak havoc on the global economy. It is sure to draw condemnation from the international community.” As a result of Japan’s actions, South Koreans have stopped buying Japanese products as a sign of protest with a boycott campaign growing increasingly popular. Within the past month, sales of Toyota vehicles fell 32% while Honda’s sales plunging by 34%.
Pompeo Attempts AntiChina Alliance in Pacific U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) this week to hammer out an anti-China alliance with the tiny Pacific states. During the visit, Pompeo hud-
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