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Tensions Ease as Iran Releases Crew of Seized Portuguese Ship

Tensions Ease as Iran Releases Crew of Seized Portuguese Ship

Tensions Ease as Iran Releases Crew of Seized Portuguese Ship

On Friday, Iran announced the release of all crew members aboard a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship, the MSC Aries. This move comes after weeks of heightened tensions between Iran and Israel. Notably, 16 of the released crew members were Indian nationals.

The seizure of the MSC Aries occurred in mid-April, coinciding with a period of military escalation between Iran and Israel. Iran justified the detainment by claiming the vessel had turned off its radar while in Iranian territorial waters, thereby endangering maritime safety. They emphasized that the ship was held “under judicial rules.”

However, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, also indicated a more conciliatory approach. During a conversation with his Estonian counterpart, he revealed that all crew members, including Estonians, had already been released on “humanitarian grounds.” There was one caveat: the ship’s captain would need to accompany the released crew for them to depart Iran.

Amirabdollahian further stressed the importance of adhering to maritime regulations by all vessels to ensure overall safety at sea. This statement suggests Iran might be willing to de-escalate the situation if international maritime protocols are followed.

Iran declared on Friday that it has released the crew members, including 16 Indian nationals, from the Portuguese-flagged ship that it seized during its military clash with Israel.

According to a statement from Iran, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian informed his Estonian counterpart, Margus Tsahkna, on Friday that the ship, which had turned off its radar in Iranian territorial waters, posing a threat to navigation security, was detained following judicial procedures.

“He, however, emphasized that Iran has already released all the ship’s crew members on humanitarian grounds. If the ship’s captain accompanies them, the crew, including the Estonians, can return to their country. Amirabdollahian stressed that adherence to maritime rules and regulations by all ships is essential and unavoidable to ensure maritime safety,” Iran stated in a summary of the conversation between the two ministers.

Ann Tessa Joseph, the only woman cadet among the 17 Indian crew members of the Israeli-linked container vessel, was released days after the tanker was seized by Iran’s military on April 13.

The release of the crew, particularly the Indian nationals, likely came about due to diplomatic pressure. Ann Tessa Joseph, the sole female cadet among the Indian crew, was one of the first to be freed following the initial seizure. This early release suggests that the Indian government may have played a role in securing the crew’s well-being.

It’s important to note that the seizure of the MSC Aries wasn’t an isolated incident. Recent attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are allied with Iran, have also disrupted global shipping. These attacks were allegedly carried out in solidarity with the Palestinians.

The episode involving the MSC Aries highlights the complex web of tensions in the Middle East. While Iran claims the seizure was justified due to a maritime safety violation, the timing suggests it might have been a strategic move amidst its conflict with Israel. However, the release of the crew, particularly on humanitarian grounds, offers a glimmer of hope for a potential de-escalation.

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