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US Blames Iran for Ship Attacks

Leading U.S. defense and security officials warn Iran was getting ready to unleash a wave of attacks

US, Iran, Ship Attacks
FILE - Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan talks to reporters at the Pentagon, March 18, 2019. VOA

Leading U.S. defense and security officials warn Iran was getting ready to unleash a wave of attacks across the Middle East targeting the United States and its allies when the decision was made to send more troops to the region.

Speaking separately, the acting secretary of defense and the country’s top-ranking general Wednesday defended intelligence reports suggesting Tehran had planned to raise the stakes in the already volatile region.

‘High confidence’ in reports

“We get intelligence consistently that speaks to the threats in the region. This was an anomaly,” acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan told reporters, while en route to Jakarta.

“I have very high confidence in the reporting,” he added.

US, Iran, Ship Attacks
FILE – U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford is pictured in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 18, 2018. VOA

In Washington, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford likewise confirmed the intelligence that prompted the military to send reinforcements to the region was “qualitatively different.”

“We saw something that looked more like a campaign,” he said. “What is new was a pattern of threat streams that extended from Yemen, threats in the Gulf and threats in Iraq.”

Dunford cited attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, drone strikes and rocket attacks “in the proximity” of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as part of the Iranian campaign.

Also Wednesday, during a visit to Abu Dhabi to discuss security matters, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for the mine attacks off the UAE coast.

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Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi rejected Bolton’s accusation as “ridiculous.”

U.S. deployment

Earlier this month, the United States rushed the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, including fighter jets, helicopters, naval destroyers and about 6,000 sailors, and deployed a bomber task force to the region in response to the increased threat.

Last week, defense officials announced they were sending 900 more troops to the region while extending the deployment of another 600 troops, part of a Patriot missile defense battery.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated since President Donald Trump announced his decision to try to eliminate Iran’s oil exports to pressure the Iranian government to alter its aggression in the Middle East.

US, Iran, Ship Attacks
FILE – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Asia Society in New York, April 24, 2019. VOA

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused top U.S. officials of “warmongering” and said the Trump administration’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran amounted to “economic terrorism.”

But Shanahan, who said Wednesday that the additional U.S. forces were being sent to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, rejected the Iranian accusations.

“Nobody wants a war,” he said. “When the president says he doesn’t want a war with Iran, I think that’s pretty clear.”

U.S. defense officials also said Tehran was told in advance that the U.S. moves were not designed to increase its offensive capabilities but merely to protect forces already in the region.

Open to talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting Wednesday that the “road is not closed” to negotiations with the United States if it returns to the 2015 international nuclear deal that Trump abrogated. The pact was aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear weapons development while lifting economic sanctions on Tehran.

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“The road is not closed for them, whenever they put aside their cruel sanctions and return to the negotiation table that they left,” Rouhani said. (VOA)

Next Story

US Government Begins Probe into Google Over its Labour Practices

"Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google's Code of Conduct, which ends: 'And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right -- speak up.' When they did, Google retaliated against them," the employee activist group wrote in the blog post

Google Search Engine
Google Logo. Pixabay

The US government has launched a probe into Google over its labour practices following a complaint from four employees who have been fired by the tech giant.

The four workers who filed a lawsuit against the company last week, claimed they were fired from Google for engaging in legally protected labour organizing, reports CNN Business.

The National Labor Relations Board has begun a formal probe into the complaint.

The tech giant has been accused of “union busting” and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked four employees for allegedly violating the company’s data security policies.

In a statement, Google said it dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of its longstanding data security policies.

US begins probe into Google’s labour practices. Pixabay

“No one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities,” said the company on Monday.

Google is in the midst of controversy over its strained relationship with employees.

In an earlier blog post on Medium, an employee activist group, “Google Walkout for Real Change”, said that the company is illegally retaliating against prospective union organisers.

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“Four of our colleagues took a stand and organised for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: ‘And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right — speak up.’ When they did, Google retaliated against them,” the employee activist group wrote in the blog post.

The new CEO of Alphabet Sundar Pichai faces extreme challenges as Google stares at several high-profile external probes into its alleged anti-trust market and data practices — from the US to the European Union regulators — including internal tensions with staff over discrimination at work and HR transparency. (IANS)