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Iran gives the crew of the “MSC Aries” hope

Iran is apparently responding to international pressure and is holding out the prospect of releasing all the seamen from the hijacked container ship “MSC Aries”.

After the International Maritime Organization (IMO), among others, sharply criticised the hostage-taking of the 24 crew members on the “MSC Aries”, which was hijacked a good two weeks ago, Iran has apparently relented. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced the release of the seamen being held on the ship.

The “MSC Aries” (15,000 TEU, built in 2020) was seized by units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf on 13 April and taken into Iranian territorial waters along with its crew. Iranian state media reported an imminent release, citing the mullah regime’s top diplomat.

The 23 sailors are all in good health and have been granted consular access. The ambassadors of the respective countries have already been informed about the release and extradition, the report added. On board were 16 Indians, four crew members from the Philippines and one each from Estonia, Pakistan and Russia. One Indian cadet has already been released.

“MSC Aries” with a connection to Israel?

Officially, Iran had justified the action with a breach of safety regulations. According to Tehran, the “MSC Aries” had been sailing with its AIS signal switched off and had not responded to contact attempts by the Iranian authorities.

However, a retaliatory action for an Israeli missile attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria is far more likely. The “MSC Aries” was obviously chosen because it is Israeli property. The ship is operated by the shipping company Gortal Shipping, which belongs to the Zodiac Maritime network of Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer. The charterer is MSC.

Iran supports Huthi in Yemen

The Strait of Hormuz, an approximately 55 km wide strait between Iran and Oman, is one of the most important shipping routes for global oil exports. The USA regularly accuses the Iranian navy of obstructing civilian shipping traffic in the Strait of Hormuz and the adjacent Gulf of Oman.

Iran is also militarily and financially behind the Houthi movement, which has repeatedly attacked ships in the Red Sea since October last year. The carrier “Galaxy Leader” of the Japanese shipping company NYK, which was captured and hijacked by a Houthi commando six months ago, is still lying off the coast of Yemen.

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