US kills Kenya oil deal
By NATION TEAM email@example.com
Posted Wednesday, July 4 2012 at 23:30
Posted Wednesday, July 4 2012 at 23:30
Kenya, under pressure from the US and in the midst of security concerns, has cancelled an oil deal with Iran.
The Nation learnt on Wednesday that a meeting held at the Office of the President decided that the MoU with Iran for the annual purchase of oil annually should be cancelled.
The official reason, according to Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike, was that the deal was not favourable, because it did not come with any price discount and Iran was only allowing a 90-day credit period.
Official feeling was also that this was not the first time that the government had signed such a deal with Iran, with no success.
According to government sources, the agreement was first signed in 2009 and then in 2010 but both agreements lapsed since Kenya could not find a bank to secure the deal.
However, the more immediate reason appears to pressure by western governments, particularly the US.
“There is an embargo on Iranian oil. We don’t want to get involved in the intricacies of international inter-governmental issues,” Mr Nyoike was quoted by Reuters.
This is the latest development in a series of events which have put Kenya in the middle of the conflict between the West and Iran.
In Nairobi, outgoing US ambassador Scott Gration said Kenya could face sanctions over its relations with Iran.
Speaking after US Independence Day celebrations at his residence, Mr Gration said that although there was no official communication on the issue, the matter would be handled “at the appropriate time.”
“Certainly there are sanctions, there will be repercussions ... there are sanctions for people that are buying oil and products from Iran and we will have to deal with those as they emerge,” said Mr Gration.
Already, the government is dealing with the aftermath of the Garissa church attack in which 17 people were killed and 66 injured.
By Wednesday, 83 people had been arrested, a virtual curfew declared and a security blanket by a special taskforce thrown over the region.
Daily Nation’s security sources said Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, helped identify Iranian suspects in custody.
Kenya’s anti-terrorism police had circulated photographs of the two to Mossad together with British, American and French spy agencies.
The Iranians had already attracted the Mossad, America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, security officials said.
Apart from targeting the Israeli embassy, The Daily Telegraph, a British daily, reported they toured Nairobi surveying the British High Commission, the Israeli embassy and a church in the week before their arrest.
The pair made notes during drive-by surveillance in the Kenyan capital but did not take photographs for fear of raising suspicions.
The two, Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi, are believed to be members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit that acts against foreign interests, a security official told The Telegraph.
“Officials have said that the pair, were plotting to hit British, US, Israeli or Saudi Arabian interests in East Africa,” the UK newspaper reported.
On Wednesday, the Iranian Embassy in Nairobi denied the reports that the two Iranians were part of a Tehran-sponsored terror network.
Ambassador Malek Givzad said Kenya and Iran enjoyed cordial relations and that they were determined to take it a level higher.
He accused the US and Israel of being behind the arrests. Mr Givzad complained that the embassy had not been allowed access to the suspects.
“We have not received any formal communication from the government regarding the charges and their lawyer had not been able to see the file,” he said.
On Wednesday, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) accused the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) of being “laid back” in its work while the country suffered terrorist attacks.
The Iranians were being watched the minute they arrived in Kenya on June 12, until they were arrested a week later.
“The pair planned to detonate as many as 30 different bombs targeting British, US, Israeli and Saudi Arabian interests, including tourist facilities and prominent commercial and government buildings, anti-terror investigators believe,” said The Telegraph.
A secret report by Kenyan authorities, shared with foreign intelligence agencies, prompted renewed joint efforts to prevent attacks.
The report had information that two Iranians had landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and made contact with people Kenyan authorities had placed under surveillance because they were suspected to have links with Al-Shabaab.
Subsequently, police recovered 15 kilogrammes of RDX, an explosive compound, near Mombasa Golf Club.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Iranian terrorism knows no borders,” and alluding to the events in Kenya, said Iran had sent its agents to plot terrorist attack in Africa.”